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IP Multicast

IP Multicast Adaptive Bit Rate Architecture Technical


Report

OC-TR-IP-MULTI-ARCH-C01-161026
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OC-TR-IP-MULTI-ARCH-C01-161026 IP Multicast

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Document Status Sheet

Document Control Number: OC-TR-IP-MULTI-ARCH-C01-161026

Document Title: IP Multicast Adaptive Bit Rate Architecture Technical


Report

Revision History: V01 - 11/12/14


C01 - 10/26/16

Date: October 26, 2016

Status: Work in Draft Released Closed


Progress

Distribution Restrictions: Author CL/Member CL/ Member/ Public


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Contents
1 SCOPE ..................................................................................................................................................................7
1.1 IP Multicast Overview ...................................................................................................................................7
1.2 Terminology ..................................................................................................................................................8
2 INFORMATIVE REFERENCES ......................................................................................................................9
2.1 Reference Acquisition....................................................................................................................................9
3 TERMS AND DEFINITIONS .......................................................................................................................... 10
4 ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS .......................................................................................................... 11
5 IP MULTICAST OF VIDEO ........................................................................................................................... 13
5.1 Overview ..................................................................................................................................................... 13
5.2 Scope ........................................................................................................................................................... 13
5.3 Overview ..................................................................................................................................................... 14
5.4 IP Multicast Design Goals ........................................................................................................................... 15
5.4.1 Generic Architecture Goals ................................................................................................................. 15
5.4.2 IP Version Support and Interworking .................................................................................................. 16
5.4.3 Media Stream Transport & Delivery ................................................................................................... 16
5.4.4 Quality of Service ................................................................................................................................ 16
5.4.5 Viewership Measurement ..................................................................................................................... 16
5.4.6 Security ................................................................................................................................................ 16
6 IP MULTICAST FUNCTIONAL COMPONENTS ....................................................................................... 18
6.1 Home Network............................................................................................................................................. 18
6.1.1 IP Set-Top Box (IP-STB)...................................................................................................................... 18
6.1.2 Companion Devices and Consumer Electronics .................................................................................. 18
6.2 Access Network ........................................................................................................................................... 18
6.2.1 Gateway (GW) ..................................................................................................................................... 18
6.2.2 Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP)......................................................................................... 19
6.3 Content Delivery Network (CDN) ............................................................................................................... 20
6.3.1 CDN Edge Cache ................................................................................................................................. 20
6.3.2 CDN Midtier or Shield Cache.............................................................................................................. 20
6.3.3 CDN Origin Server .............................................................................................................................. 20
6.4 Multicast Components ................................................................................................................................. 20
6.4.1 Multicast Controller ............................................................................................................................ 20
6.4.2 Multicast Server ................................................................................................................................... 21
6.5 Video ........................................................................................................................................................... 21
6.5.1 MPEG Source ...................................................................................................................................... 21
6.5.2 Packager .............................................................................................................................................. 21
6.6 Operational Support Systems....................................................................................................................... 21
6.6.1 Business Support System (BSS)............................................................................................................ 21
6.6.2 Network Management System (NMS) .................................................................................................. 21
6.7 Content Protection ....................................................................................................................................... 22
6.7.1 License Server ...................................................................................................................................... 22
6.7.2 Key Server ............................................................................................................................................ 22
6.7.3 Certificate Server ................................................................................................................................. 22
7 REFERENCE INTERFACES .......................................................................................................................... 23
7.1 Reference Interface Definition..................................................................................................................... 23
7.1.1 CPE Interface ...................................................................................................................................... 24
7.1.2 Multicast Server - Embedded Multicast Client (ms-emc) Interface ..................................................... 24
7.1.3 Multicast Controller - Embedded Multicast Client (mc-emc) Interface .............................................. 25


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7.1.4 CDN - Gateway (cdn-gw) Interface ..................................................................................................... 25


7.1.5 MULPI Interface .................................................................................................................................. 25
7.1.6 Multicast Controller - Multicast Server (mc-ms) Interface ................................................................. 25
7.1.7 Packager - Multicast Server (pkg-ms) Interface .................................................................................. 26
7.1.8 CDN - Multicast Server (cdn-ms) Interface ......................................................................................... 26
7.1.9 Multicast Controller - Packager (mc-pkg) Interface ........................................................................... 26
7.1.10 MPEG Source Interface (mpeg-si)....................................................................................................... 27
7.1.11 BSS Interface (bssi).............................................................................................................................. 27
7.1.12 OSS Interface (ossi) ............................................................................................................................. 27
7.2 Security ........................................................................................................................................................ 27
7.3 Functional Overview ................................................................................................................................... 27
7.3.1 Basic Player Retrieval ......................................................................................................................... 28
7.3.2 M-ABR Infrastructure Interactions ...................................................................................................... 31
8 MULTICAST CAPACITY-RELATED CONSIDERATIONS ..................................................................... 33
8.1 Background & Overview ............................................................................................................................. 33
8.2 Multicast Content Selection Approaches ..................................................................................................... 34
8.2.1 Viewership-Driven Multicast ............................................................................................................... 34
8.2.2 Policy-Driven Multicast ....................................................................................................................... 34
8.2.3 Viewership & Policy Driven Multicast Hybrids .................................................................................. 35
8.2.4 Multicast Content Selection Approach Considerations ....................................................................... 35
8.3 Serving Group Sizing Considerations .......................................................................................................... 37
8.4 Centralized versus Decentralized Multicast ................................................................................................. 37
8.5 IP Multicast Migration ................................................................................................................................. 37
9 MULTICAST DELIVERY DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS .......................................................................... 39
9.1 Access Network Design Considerations ...................................................................................................... 39
9.1.1 Access Network Quality of Service ...................................................................................................... 39
9.1.2 Multi-Service vs Dedicated Channels/Bonding Groups ...................................................................... 40
9.1.3 Dynamic Multicast Service Flow Creation .......................................................................................... 41
9.1.4 Channels per Bonding Group .............................................................................................................. 42
9.1.5 Access Network Security ...................................................................................................................... 42
9.2 Multicast Functional Design Considerations ............................................................................................... 43
9.2.1 Multicast Group Membership Design Considerations ........................................................................ 43
9.2.2 Multicast Transport Layer Functional Design Considerations ........................................................... 43
9.2.3 Multicast Address Determination ........................................................................................................ 48
9.3 Video Design Considerations ...................................................................................................................... 49
9.3.1 QoS & Video Delivery Rate ................................................................................................................. 49
9.3.2 Manifest Manipulation ......................................................................................................................... 49
9.3.3 Reception Caching & Predictive Tuning ............................................................................................. 50
9.3.4 Channel Change Performance............................................................................................................. 50
9.3.5 Time to Multicast Performance ........................................................................................................... 52
9.3.6 Time from Live ..................................................................................................................................... 53
9.3.7 Emergency Alerts ................................................................................................................................. 53
9.4 Operational Support Design Considerations ................................................................................................ 53
9.4.1 Viewership Reporting .......................................................................................................................... 53
9.4.2 Key Performance Indicators ................................................................................................................ 53
10 CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................................................................ 55
APPENDIX I EXAMPLE M-ABR SEQUENCE DIAGRAMS ......................................................................... 56
I.1 Video-Related Sequences ............................................................................................................................ 56
I.1.1 Content Delivery with Multicast Cache Check ........................................................................................ 56
I.2 NORM-Related Sequences .......................................................................................................................... 61
APPENDIX II NORM_INFO METADATA ENCODING .............................................................................. 64


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APPENDIX III CHANNEL MAP REFERENCE SCHEMA ........................................................................... 66


III.1 LinearAssetAddressType Definition ........................................................................................................... 66
III.2 UnicastRequestMatcherType Definition ..................................................................................................... 67
III.3 UnicastRequestToMcastMapType Definition ............................................................................................. 67
III.4 ChannelMapType Definition ....................................................................................................................... 67
III.5 Reference Channel Map Schema ................................................................................................................. 67
APPENDIX IV ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ...................................................................................................... 69

Figures
Figure 1 – M-ABR Elements and Functional Groupings ............................................................................................ 14
Figure 2 – Multicast ABR Reference Interfaces .......................................................................................................... 23
Figure 3 – Initial Retrieval of New Content ................................................................................................................ 28
Figure 4 – Continuous Delivery of New Content ........................................................................................................ 29
Figure 5 – Multicast Cache Filling .............................................................................................................................. 30
Figure 6 – Example High-Level Infrastructure Interactions ........................................................................................ 31
Figure 7 – Concurrent Viewers versus Channel Rank ................................................................................................. 33
Figure 8 – Concurrent Viewers versus Channel Rank with Viewers of Top N Channels ........................................... 36
Figure 9 – CM Count with Downstream Codeword Errors (1 min.) ........................................................................... 46
Figure 10 – CM Percentage with Downstream Codeword Errors (1 min.).................................................................. 46
Figure 11 – CM Percentage with Downstream Codeword Errors (50 min.)................................................................ 47
Figure 12 – Content Access Sequence for Cached/Uncached Content ........................................................................ 51
Figure 13 – Content Delivery with Multicast Cache Check ........................................................................................ 56
Figure 14 – Multicast Cache Filling ............................................................................................................................ 59
Figure 15 – NORM Delivery of Segments with Unicast Repair ................................................................................. 62
Figure 16 – NORM with Unicast Repair ..................................................................................................................... 63
Figure 17 – Reference Channel Map Schema.............................................................................................................. 66

Tables
Table 1 – Multicast ABR Reference Interface Descriptions........................................................................................ 23
Table 2 – Multicast ABR Deployment Scenarios ........................................................................................................ 38
Table 3 – Worst Case Unicast vs. Multicast QAM Requirements per [Eshet-14] ....................................................... 42
Table 4 – NORM FEC Protection & Overhead Scenarios........................................................................................... 44
Table 5 – Codeword Error Rate ................................................................................................................................... 44
Table 6 – Content Delivery with Multicast Cache Check ........................................................................................... 57
Table 7 – Initial Request – Unvailable via Multicast................................................................................................... 60
Table 8 – LinearAssetAddressType Definition ........................................................................................................... 66
Table 9 – UnicastRequestMatcherType Definition ..................................................................................................... 67


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1 SCOPE
This technical report describes a reference architecture for multicast of Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) video over an IP-
based access network (sometimes referred to as Multicast-ABR, Multicast Assisted ABR or M-ABR). This technical
report covers all major system components, the various functional groupings and the network interfaces necessary
for delivery of services. The intended audience for this document includes developers of products utilizing IP
multicast to deliver ABR video, and network architects who need to understand the overall IP multicast architecture
framework.
This technical report describes the various facets of IP multicast. It contains the following information:
• A reference architecture;
• Description of the various functional groupings within the architecture;
• High level goals of the architecture;
• Detailed description of specific architectural components;
• Best practices and design tradeoffs when deploying M-ABR

1.1 IP Multicast Overview


This technical report defines a reference architecture for IP Multicast and a set of open interfaces that leverage
popular and emerging communications technologies to support the rapid migration to IP-based video. It also
describes both best practices and design tradeoffs that operators may encounter when deploying this service.
Wherever practical, it also provides methods of quantifying the impact of alternative design decisions.
While the time-shifting behavior of many viewers has operators looking towards a future where video is delivered
primarily over unicast IP, switched digital video (SDV) data shows that there is still a substantial portion of viewers
who watch live linear television. Given the capacity requirements for delivering 100% unicast video and that current
viewership data shows that much of that content would be redundant, operators are looking towards IP multicast to
improve efficiency and minimize the capacity required for IP video transmission.
Over the past several years, operators have made substantial investments in "TV Everywhere" infrastructure for
delivery of video to tablets, smart phones and other companion devices. The design of this infrastructure was driven
largely by the capabilities of these companion devices and the technologies popular in that space. One of the key
technologies used to support companion devices is HTTP-based adaptive bit rate (ABR) video streaming, which
allows different devices with different screen sizes and different/changing network conditions to receive video
content appropriate for their current environment.
In looking toward migrating to IP-based video delivery for primary screens, operators were faced with two basic
choices - multicast delivery of IP video over RTP or unicast delivery of ABR video over HTTP. The first choice
would have meant a largely separate and functionally redundant infrastructure for IP video delivery with substantial
associated capital and operational costs. The second choice would have meant significant capacity upgrades for
delivery of unicast video to all subscribers.
Recently, Multicast ABR (M-ABR) has emerged as a middle road between these two extremes. It allows operators
to leverage the same/similar infrastructure used in their TV Everywhere deployments without having the capacity
costs of 100% unicast video delivery.
The focus of this technical report is on:
• M-ABR - Segmented ABR video delivery such as that provided by HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), HTTP
Dynamic Streaming (HDS), Microsoft Smooth Streaming (MSS) or MPEG-DASH. The focus is on
emerging M-ABR approaches as opposed to multicast of CBR video over RTP, which is already well-
documented in the literature.
• Live Linear TV - Once content has been time-shifted, the ability to multicast that content is greatly
reduced, as no two users are likely to be at the same point in the stream at the same time.


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• Full Video Feature Set - As a service focused on the primary screen, the expectation is that every feature
supported by QAM-based video delivery is also supported by IP Multicast delivery. These include features
such as ad insertion, emergency alert system (EAS), AMBER alert (AA), etc.
• DOCSIS Access Network - The emphasis is on delivery of this service via CCAPs over operators' DOCSIS
access networks.
This technical report is a non-normative document. It describes a new application of many existing standards and
protocols, but does not define any new protocols or interfaces. It is possible that follow-on work spurred by this
technical report may produce normative documents if areas are identified which could benefit from standardization;
however, this is not a goal of this document.
This technical report leverages other open standards and specifications wherever possible.

1.2 Terminology
This document uses three terms to call out specific approaches identified by the working group as worthy of
consideration when designing an M-ABR service. These approaches fall into three categories: Best Practice,
Tentative Best Practice and Design Considerations.
• Best Practices are techniques that the working group has identified as generally being the preferred design
approach in a specific area.
• Tentative Best Practices are techniques that current data point to as being Best Practices (as defined
previously); however, insufficient data exists to definitively call the practice a Best Practice.
• Design Considerations are critical tradeoffs and design decisions that operators need to make; however,
different business models or other legitimate differences between operators mean that there is no universal
Best Practice in this area.


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2 INFORMATIVE REFERENCES
This technical report uses the following informative references.

[Eshet-14] "Multicast as a Mandatory Stepping Stone for an IP Video Service to the Big Screen," A. Eshet,
J. Ulm, U. Cohen and C. Ansley, 2014, The Cable Show NCTA/SCTE Technical Sessions.
http://www.nctatechnicalpapers.com/Paper/2014/2014-multicast-as-a-mandatory-stepping-
stone-for-an-ip-video-service-to-the-big-screen
[Horrobin-13] "Pioneering IPTV in Cable Networks," J. Horrobin and G. Shah, October 2013, SCTE Cable-
Tec Expo. http://www.scte.org/devams/cgi-bin/msascartlist.dll/ProductInfo?productcd=TS51
[IMC-08] "Watching Television Over an IP Network," M. Cha, P. Rodriguez, J. Crowcroft, S. Moon, and
X. Amatriain, 2008, Proceedings of the 8th ACM SIGCOMM Conference on Internet
Measurement. http://an.kaist.ac.kr/~sbmoon/paper/intl-conf/2008-imc-iptv.pdf
[MM TR] PacketCable Multimedia Architecture Framework Technical Report, PKT-TR-MM-ARCH-
V02-051221, December 21, 2005, Cable Television Laboratories, Inc.
[Pantos-14] HTTP Live Streaming, draft-pantos-http-live-streaming-14, R.P. Pantos and W.M. May,
October 14, 2014, Internet Engineering Task Force.
[RFC 5052] IETF RFC 5052, Forward Error Correction (FEC) Building Block, M. Watson, M. Luby, L.
Vicisano, August 2007.
[RFC 5510] IETF RFC 5510, Reed-Solomon Forward Error Correction (FEC) Schemes, J. Lacan, V. Roca,
J. Peltotalo, S. Peltotalo, April 2009.
[RFC 5740] IETF RFC 5740, NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast (NORM) Transport Protocol, B.
Adamson, C. Bormann, M. Handley, J. Macker, November 2009.
[Ulm-09] "IP Video Guide - Avoiding Pot Holes on the Cable IPTV Highway," J. Ulm and P. Maurer,
October 2009, SCTE Cable-Tec Expo.

2.1 Reference Acquisition

• Cable Television Laboratories, Inc., 858 Coal Creek Circle, Louisville, CO 80027;
Phone +1-303-661-9100; Fax +1-303-661-9199; http://www.cablelabs.com
• Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Secretariat, 46000 Center Oak Plaza, Sterling, VA 20166, Phone +1-
571-434-3500, Fax +1-571-434-3535, http://www.ietf.org


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3 TERMS AND DEFINITIONS


This document uses the following terms:

Access Network The HFC network between the Gateway and the CCAP.
Adaptive Bit Rate A streaming video technique where Players select between multiple bit rate
encodings of the same video stream.
Bonding Group A logical set of DOCSIS channels which support parallel transmission.
Companion Device A video playback device - not a television - such as a tablet, smartphone or PC.
Converged Cable Access A system which provides DOCSIS and QAM-based video services to CMs,
Platform Gateways and set-top boxes.
Content Distribution A network designed to minimizing latency by distributing network objects onto
Network geographically diverse servers.
Embedded Multicast The function embedded in the Gateway which joins multicast groups and receives
Client multicast content.
Gateway A customer premises device which facilitates delivery of video, data and other
services.
Headend The central location on the cable network that is responsible for injecting broadcast
video and other signals in the downstream direction.
Home Network A network within the subscriber premises which connects to the Access Network via
the Gateway.
IP Multicast A delivery mechanism whereby IP packets can be transmitted to/received from
devices that have explicitly joined a multicast group.
Key Server A server which provides keys as part of a DRM solution.
License Server A server which checks authorization and provides licenses as part of a DRM solution.
Linear TV A continuous content stream from a provider, e.g., a broadcast television network.
MPEG Source A device which provides a source of MPEG-encoded video content for encoding as
ABR content streams.
Multicast Controller A device which controls what channels are provided via multicast.
Multicast Server A device which delivers content via multicast.
Multiple System A company that owns and operates more than one cable system.
Operator (MSO)
Packager A device which takes continuous video streams, encodes them at different bit rates
and breaks them into shorter duration segments.
PacketCable Multimedia An application-agnostic QoS architecture for services delivered over DOCSIS
networks.
Player An application for playback of ABR video.
Serving Group A set of receivers which all receive the same transmission of a given frequency band.
Stream A series of video segments which contain the same video asset, typically at the same
bit rate encoding.
Unicast Delivery of IP packets to a single device.


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4 ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS


This document uses the following abbreviations:

ABR Adaptive Bit Rate


BSS Business Support System
CCAP Converged Cable Access Platform
CER Codeword Error Rate
CIR Committed Information Rate
CM Cable Modem
CMS Content Management Server
COAM Customer Owned and Managed
CPE Customer Premises Equipment
DNS Domain Name System
DOCSIS® Data-Over-Cable Service Interface Specifications
EAS Emergency Alert System
EAN Emergency Action Notification
GW Gateway
HD High Definition
HDS HTTP Dynamic Streaming
HLS HTTP Live Streaming
HTTP Hyper Text Transfer Protocol
IGMP Internet Group Management Protocol
IP Internet Protocol
IPsec Internet Protocol Security
IP-STB IP Set-Top Box
IPv4 Internet Protocol Version 4
IPv6 Internet Protocol Version 6
JSON JavaScript Object Notation
KPI Key Performance Indicators
M-ABR Multicast-Adaptive Bit Rate
MC Multicast Controller
MLD Multicast Listener Discovery
MoCA Multimedia over Coax Alliance
MPEG Moving Picture Experts Group
MPEG-DASH Moving Picture Experts Group Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP
MS Multicast Server
MSS Microsoft Smooth Streaming


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NMS Network Management System


NORM NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast
PLR Packet Loss Rate
QAM Quadrature Amplitude Modulation
QoS Quality of Service
REST Representational State Transfer
RTP Real-time Transport Protocol
RTCP RTP Control Protocol
RTSP Real-Time Streaming Protocol
RTMP Real-Time Messaging Protocol
SD Standard Definition
SDV Switched Digital Video
(S,G) (Source IP Address, Group IP Address)
SNMP Simple Network Management Protocol
TCP Transmission Control Protocol
TLS Transport Layer Security
TR Technical Report
UA User Agent
UDP User Datagram Protocol
UE User Equipment
URI Uniform Resource Identifier
WiFi Wireless Local Area Network
XML eXtensible Markup Language


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5 IP MULTICAST OF VIDEO
5.1 Overview
The IP Multicast ABR architecture defined in this document describes a set of functional groups and logical entities,
as well as a set of interfaces (called reference points) that support the information flows exchanged between entities.
This section provides:
• A statement on the intended scope of this document;
• An overview of the architecture, including a description of the main functional groupings (e.g., Home
Network, Access Network, CDN, Multicast) and logical entities (e.g., CCAP, Gateway, Multicast
Controller) within those groupings;
• A set of design goals for the IP Multicast architecture.

5.2 Scope
This document has three main goals:
1) Document the benefits of M-ABR delivery of live linear video compared to IP-based unicast retrieval. This
includes examining serving group sizing and quantifying the efficiency gains in both the access and
aggregation networks.
2) Document a reference architecture and
3) Identify and quantify design tradeoffs where multiple mechanisms exist to achieve the same goal.
The following topics are explicitly out of scope of this document. They may be briefly mentioned in this document
as a comparison to the core topic, but they are not a focus of this document:
1) Streaming video over RTSP, RTMP, etc.
2) Unicast video delivery architectures.
3) Content other than video.
4) Multicast delivery over networks other than the DOCSIS access network (although Multicast assisted ABR
will run over different access network technologies).


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5.3 Overview
An overview of the IP Multicast architecture elements and functional groupings is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – M-ABR Elements and Functional Groupings

The elements are divided into several logical areas or functional groupings:
• Home Network: The home network is the network that the User Equipment (UE) uses to connect to the access
network. It may be Ethernet, WiFi, MoCA or any other technology used to network or connect UEs. Home
Network functional components include:
• IP Set-Top Box (IP-STB): A set-top box which is only capable of receiving video over IP (i.e., it has no
QAM demodulators). A Companion Device is customer owned and maintained (COAM) equipment that
can be used to deliver IP video. Not shown in this figure, but equally important, is a software component
referred to as the Player. The Player is any playback application that resides in the IP-STB or Companion


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Device and is capable of playing ABR video. In this technical report the term Player is often generically
used to refer to a playback entity which could reside on either the IP-STB or Companion Device.
• Gateway (sometimes referred to as the Residential Gateway): A CPE that contains an embedded DOCSIS
cable modem (CM) for communicating to the CCAP and as a data path to the home network.
• Hybrid STB (not shown): A set-top box capable of terminating both QAM video and DOCSIS. This device
has the capability to function as a Gateway.
• Access Network: The network between the customer's Gateway and the operator's edge network.
• CDN: The CDN often consists of three components - the origin server, midtier or shield cache and edge cache.
Gateways direct requests for unicast video content to their edge cache (often with the assistance of a CDN
selector). If the content is not present in the edge cache, the edge cache requests the content from the midtier
cache. Similarly, if the midtier cache does not contain the content, it requests it from the origin server.
• Video or Source Video: The originating MPEG Source for the ABR-encoded video. The Packager segments the
video stream and, typically, applies encryption.
• Content Protection: The License Server generates licenses for client devices derived from the keys it receives
from the Key Server. The Key Server generates keys and supplies them to the encrypting device (i.e., the
Packager). The Certificate Server manages identities for clients that will decrypt content.
• Operational Support: the Network Management System (NMS) monitors the other components involved in
video delivery.
Note that some of the functional components described above are logical functions, which may be combined on
common platforms.

5.4 IP Multicast Design Goals


In order to enable M-ABR across the cable network infrastructure, the IP Multicast reference architecture was
designed to meet goals in a number of functional areas:
• Media Stream Transport & Delivery;
• Quality of Service;
• Viewership Measurement;
• Security.
5.4.1 Generic Architecture Goals
The design goals of the IP Multicast reference architecture include:
• Provide an architecture that transparently supports existing standard ABR players without modification (no
additional client required);
• Provide an architecture that supports IP multicast delivery of ABR video over the access network to a
Gateway;
• Provide an architecture that supports seamlessly switching between content delivered via unicast or
multicast;
• Provide an architecture that supports switching between ABR video streams (multicast or unicast) with no
additional delay when compared to changing channels between two unicast ABR streams and on the order
of the channel change time for QAM-based video;
• Provide an architecture that supports all of the features of legacy QAM-based video, including Emergency
Alert (EAS, EAN, etc.), Amber Alert, ad insertion (both by ad zone and subscriber);
• Provide a modular architecture, where architectural components can be combined in a variety of ways to
support a wide range of features;


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• Provide facility to provide dynamic multicast management for higher access network efficiencies;
• Provide a unicast failback mechanism when multicast is unavailable;
• Provide a means of reliable multicast transport;
• Support IPv4 and IPv6 operation;
• Leverage existing standards and open protocols whenever possible;
• No use of proprietary or patented technologies that would require licensing fees.
5.4.2 IP Version Support and Interworking
The design goals for IP Version support and interworking include:
• Support IPv4 and IPv6 for Gateways, IP-STBs and Companion Devices;
• Support network components in the CDN, Video, Content Protection, Operations Support, and Multicast
functional groupings that operate in the following modes: IPv6-only, or IPv4-only, or IPv6/IPv4;
• Support IPv6 Gateways using MLDv2 accessing content sourced from an IPv4 multicast network.
5.4.3 Media Stream Transport & Delivery
Media Stream Transport & Delivery design goals include:
• Support for multicast transport protocol which allows endpoints to identify missing content and retrieve
that content in unicast or resend in multicast;
• Support for multicast transport protocol with configurable transport layer FEC.
5.4.4 Quality of Service
QoS design goals include:
• Minimize the potential for unicast retransmissions (and, thus, wasted bandwidth) by minimizing latency
and packet loss in M-ABR streams;
• Optional support for admission control so operators can ensure sufficient video capacity is available in their
multi-service access networks;
• Support packet marking and classification from the access network such that a QoS mechanism like
Differentiated Services (DiffServ) can be used in the backbone and edge network.
5.4.5 Viewership Measurement
Viewership Measurement design goals include:
• Enable the ability to periodically account for complete viewership;
• Allow for multiple network elements to generate events that can be correlated to a given session or
subscriber;
• Support the correlation of accounting events across the signaling and bearer planes;
• Provide an OSS interface on the multicast controller that can report statistics from the multicast clients and
multicast server.
5.4.6 Security
Security design goals include:
• Support for confidentiality, authentication, integrity, and access control mechanisms;
• Support for any Content Protection or Digital Rights Management system;
• Protection of the network from various denial of service, network disruption, theft-of-service attacks;


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• Protection of the gateway from denial of service attacks, security vulnerabilities, unauthorized access (from
network).


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6 IP MULTICAST FUNCTIONAL COMPONENTS


This section provides additional detail on each of the functions in the Multicast-ABR architecture.

6.1 Home Network


6.1.1 IP Set-Top Box (IP-STB)
The IP-STB is the interface between the IP network and large screen displays. Its functions include:
• Identify content;
• Request content;
• Request manifest and content;
• Adapt content requests to observed network conditions;
• Ingest content;
• Display/playback content.
6.1.2 Companion Devices and Consumer Electronics
Consumer Electronics (CE) devices such as Smart TVs and media players as well as Companion Devices (both of
which are referred to as Customer Owned And Managed (COAM) Devices) such as tablets, PCs, or smart phones.
These devices have some functions similar to those of an IP-STB; they include:
• Request content;
• Request manifests and content;
• Adapt content requests to observed network conditions;
• Receive content;
• Manage security (certificates, keys);
• Decrypt content;
• Display/playback content.
This technical report uses the generic term Player to encompass both IP-STBs and Companion Devices.

6.2 Access Network


The Home Network connects to the Content Delivery Network via the existing cable access network. The Access
Network elements provide the IP connectivity and QoS resources needed by the Home Network to provide video
services as well as the physical and MAC layers in the OSI model.
6.2.1 Gateway (GW)
The Gateway provides the physical and logical interfaces between Multicast ABR sourced from the network and
standard ABR video delivery to the requesting client. It is an active participant in multicast and unicast ABR video
delivery. Its functions include:
• Caching Proxy:
• Functions as a transparent proxy 1 for HTTP requests for segmented video content;
• Caches content segments to reduce latency;

1
Unlike standard proxies that require end-point configuration to utilize, transparent proxies require no end-point configuration.
They operate by detecting HTTP traffic and requesting content on behalf of end-points in ways intended to improve performance.


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• Requests unicast content from the CDN when content not found in its local cache;
• Ages out cached content segments when it is determined that they are no longer needed.
• Multicast:
• Uses a multicast channel map to identify content available via IP multicast;
• Receives periodic updates of multicast channel map and analyzes map to see if any previously unicast
streams are available in multicast;
• Joins multicast groups to acquire requested content available via multicast;
• Fills cache with content acquired via multicast in advance of unicast requests from IP-STBs or COAM
equipment;
• Uses multiple multicast caching buffers to improve multicast efficiency.
• Signaling:
• Signals the Multicast Controller of desired content streams when those streams are not currently available
via multicast;
• Constantly updates multicast controller at prescribed intervals with what content is being consumed in the
household;
• Manifest Manipulation:
• Manipulates manifest files for performance improvements (e.g., trims references to number of segments). 2
6.2.2 Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP)
The CCAP 3 controls multicast transmission and QoS on the access network. In this role it optimizes the mapping of
multicast content to bonding groups as well as the assignment of multicast listeners to bonding groups. It also
enables downstream QoS for multicast as well as authorizing group membership requests. Its functions include:
• Multicast Control:
• Optimize multicast replication across DOCSIS bonding groups within a serving group;
• Manage bonding groups assigned to CMs for multicast efficiency (a.k.a. multicast-aware load-balancing);
• Allow or deny multicast Joins from clients based on configured rules (DOCSIS Multicast Join
Authorization);
• Optimize assignment of DOCSIS 3.1 OFDM profiles for multicast receiver set;
• IGMP/MLD translation proxy for clients;
• QoS:
• Admission control;
• Group Service Flows and Classifiers to enable QoS on multicast sessions via a configured set of rules;
• Multicast Service Flows and Classifiers with associated QoS established via PacketCable Multimedia
(PCMM). (This is an alternative to using the Group Service Flow approach to enable multicast QoS.)
• Reporting:
• Multicast usage monitoring.

2
In order to facility delivery of multicast segments to the Gateway before the same segments are advertised to the Player, the
manifest is shortened such that the Gateway is aware of more segments than the Player. This is to avoid a race condition where a
Player requests a segment before it is available via the Gateway cache. Note: Manifest manipulation can also be performed within
the infrastructure to simplify the Gateway.
3
This technical report refers to the DOCSIS aggregation and control element as a CCAP, but this could also be a CMTS.


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6.3 Content Delivery Network (CDN)


The Content Delivery Network varies from operator to operator, but for reference this technical report considers the
following components as part of the CDN function.
6.3.1 CDN Edge Cache
The CDN Edge Cache functions include:
• Providing content at the edge of the network where the latency is lowest;
• Accessing content from other caches within the hierarchy of the CDN.
6.3.2 CDN Midtier or Shield Cache
The CDN Midtier or Shield Cache functions include:
• Acting as an intermediary between the origin cache/server and the edge cache;
• Providing additional caching intended to minimize traffic, reduce load on origin servers, provide
redundancy and/or minimize latency.
6.3.3 CDN Origin Server
The CDN Origin Server functions include:
• Receiving and storing video content from the Packager or Transcoder;
• Serving video content to subordinate caches in the CDN hierarchy.

6.4 Multicast Components


These components are key to the Multicast function of the Multicast-ABR reference architecture.
6.4.1 Multicast Controller
The Multicast Controller controls the availability of content in the multicast streams that the Multicast Server injects
into the network. It also decides how to map content to multicast groups and, thus, controls the channel map. Its
functions include:
• Content Selection:
• Policy Driven - BSS pushes policy rules to the Multicast Controller via its provisioning interface. The
Controller then regulates content/bit rates to be carried in multicast via the control interface on the
Multicast Server.
• Viewership Driven - Multicast Controller autonomously determines content/bit rates to be carried in
multicast based on client requests for content and available bandwidth for multicast streams.
• Control Multicast Delivery:
• Interface to the Multicast Server to control the content/bit rates that the MS will transmit via multicast.
• Managing/Delivering Channel Maps:
• Inform channel-mapping service of current multicast channel map and/or deliver channel map to multicast
clients.
• Reporting:
• Export data on multicast content/bit rates made available to OSS.


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6.4.2 Multicast Server


The multicast server acquires and transmits content via multicast as directed by the Multicast Controller. Its
functions include:
• Ingesting:
• Acquire content from just-in-time Packager or the CDN Origin.
• Processing:
• Insert metadata (e.g., HTTP headers associated with the original unicast version of a segment);
• Efficiently pack and encapsulate content into transport protocol.
• Streaming:
• Disseminate multicast address for content/bit rate combination;
• Transmit packets into appropriate multicast group;
• Control output packet rate;
• Mark packets with appropriate DSCP value.

6.5 Video
These components are the core of the Video function of the Multicast-ABR reference architecture.
6.5.1 MPEG Source
The MPEG Source functions include:
• Streams live linear MPEG video content to Packager.
6.5.2 Packager
The Packager functions include:
• Ingests live linear video streams from MPEG source;
• Segments video stream into fixed duration files;
• Encrypts video segments;
• Delivers segmented video files to Multicast Server and/or CDN Origin.

6.6 Operational Support Systems


These components are key to the Operational Support Systems function of the Multicast-ABR reference
architecture.
6.6.1 Business Support System (BSS)
The BSS functions include:
• Policy-based control of content/bit rates to be multicast (optional).
6.6.2 Network Management System (NMS)
The NMS functions include:
• Viewership monitoring;
• Multicast stream monitoring.


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6.7 Content Protection


Content Protection for Multicast ABR is not covered in detail in this technical report as it is identical to the function
of the DRM-based Content Protection system for unicast ABR. However, for completeness some of the basic
functions of these components are included here.
6.7.1 License Server
The License Server functions include:
• Provides licenses to IP-STB and Companion Devices;
• Interfaces to the Key Server to populate licenses with keys appropriate for the requested content.
6.7.2 Key Server
The Key Server functions include:
• Provides content encryption keys to Packagers;
• Provides decryption keys to License Servers.
6.7.3 Certificate Server
The Certificate Server functions include:
• Provides individualization certificate to each client (IP-STB or COAM device).


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7 REFERENCE INTERFACES
This technical report documents a set of protocol interfaces between many of the functional components in the
reference architecture. These interfaces are defined solely to inform and facilitate discussion around the overall
system and should not be interpreted as normative.
It is possible that some of these reference points may not exist in a given operator's or vendor's implementation. For
example, if several functional components are integrated, then it is possible that some of these reference points are
internal to the integrated device.

7.1 Reference Interface Definition


The Multicast ABR interfaces defined in this report are illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2 – Multicast ABR Reference Interfaces

The reference points depicted in Figure 2 are described in Table 1.


Table 1 – Multicast ABR Reference Interface Descriptions

Interface Reference Point Description


cpe Allows a player on an IP-STB or COAM device to view standard ABR
video. While multiple protocols can traverse this interface, they are all
completely standard web/Internet protocols - the multicast aspect of the
system is completely transparent to these devices and their players.
ms-emc Allows the Multicast Server to multicast video segments to the
Embedded Multicast Client within the Gateway. The Gateway's
embedded transparent proxy then caches the video segments for retrieval
via the cpe interface.
mc-emc Allows the Gateway's Embedded Multicast Client to identify the
multicast group of video content available on multicast.


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Interface Reference Point Description


cdn-gw Allows for unicast content retrieval of content which is unavailable via
multicast. Like the cpe interface, this interface is completely based on
standard web/Internet protocols for ABR video retrieval.
mulpi Allows for QoS-enabled delivery of multicast content over the access
network.
mc-ccap Allows for Multicast Controller to perform multicast QoS discovery or
other CCAP synchronization.
mc-ms Allows the Multicast Controller to determine the content and bit rates the
Multicast Server is delivering via multicast.
cdn-ms Allows the Origin Server/CDN to provide the Multicast Server with
video segments ready for multicast delivery.
pkg-ms Allows the Packager to provide the Multicast Server with video segments
ready for multicast delivery.
pkg-cdn Allows the Packager to provide video segments to the CDN for unicast
retrieval.
mc-pkg Allows the Multicast Controller to determine the content and bit rates the
Packager is providing to the Multicast Server.
mpeg-si Allows the MPEG Source to provide video source material directly to the
Packager or indirectly to the Packager via the Origin Server/CDN.
bssi Allows the Business Support System to provide policy to the Multicast
Controller for determining the content and bit rates to be multicast.
ossi Allows the CCAP to report multicast viewership to the NMS.

7.1.1 CPE Interface


The specifics of this interface are largely out of the scope of this technical report as they are standard mechanisms
for unicast ABR video retrieval. While critical for actual delivery of content to viewers, it is a requirement that
Multicast-ABR not require any changes to this interface - any M-ABR delivery is required to be entirely transparent
to this interface.

Purpose: Standard unicast retrieval of ABR video content by video clients.

Control HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS),


Protocol: HTTP Smooth Streaming (HSS), MPEG-DASH

Content Varies
Container:

7.1.2 Multicast Server - Embedded Multicast Client (ms-emc) Interface


This interface provides the actual multicast transport of video segments from the Multicast Server to the Embedded
Multicast Client.

Purpose: Deliver ABR video segments to the Embedded Multicast Client


within the Gateway.

Control IGMPv3/MLDv2 (membership)


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Protocol: NORM (transport)

Content ISO base media file format or MPEG-2 Transport Stream


Container:

7.1.3 Multicast Controller - Embedded Multicast Client (mc-emc) Interface


As the Gateway that both IP-STBs and Companion Devices utilize to access content is under operator control, this
interface is operator-specific. Activity on this interface is generally triggered by activity on the cpe interface.

Purpose: Deliver channel mapping data (content to (S,G) mapping) to


client
Provide channel change data to Multicast Controller

Control Operator specific (HTTP, NORM (channel map), etc.)


Protocol:

Content Operator specific (HTML, XML, JSON, etc.)


Container

Some operators unicast their channel map data and other operators are looking to multicast the channel map data.
Section 9.2.3 discusses channel map design considerations in some detail.
7.1.4 CDN - Gateway (cdn-gw) Interface
Like the cpe interface, the specifics of this interface are largely out of scope of this technical report as they are
standard mechanisms for unicast ABR video retrieval via transparent proxy. This interface is largely for the retrieval
of ABR video content which is not available via multicast.

Purpose: Standard unicast retrieval of ABR video content by the Gateway.

Control HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS),


Protocol: HTTP Smooth Streaming (HSS), MPEG-DASH

Content Varies
Container:

7.1.5 MULPI Interface


This interface provides access network QoS for multicast delivery of video segments.

Purpose: DOCSIS delivery of multicast video segments from the CCAP to


the Gateway.

Control Protocol: DOCSIS MAC; IGMPv3/MLDv2

7.1.6 Multicast Controller - Multicast Server (mc-ms) Interface


This interface is internal to operators and is largely either vendor or operator proprietary.

Purpose: Control the content and bit rates being delivered to the
Embedded Multicast Client via multicast.

Control Operator specific (REST, etc.)


Protocol:


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Content Operator specific (XML, JSON, etc.)


Container:

7.1.7 Packager - Multicast Server (pkg-ms) Interface


This interface is internal to operators and is largely either vendor or operator proprietary.

Purpose: Provide encrypted video segments for delivery via multicast

Control HTTP
Protocol:

Content MPEG-2 Transport Stream files


Container:

7.1.8 CDN - Multicast Server (cdn-ms) Interface


This interface is internal to operators and is largely either vendor or operator proprietary.

Purpose: Provide encrypted video segments for delivery via multicast

Control HTTP
Protocol:

Content MPEG-2 Transport Stream files


Container:

Typically, either the cdn-ms or the pkg-ms interface, but not both, is instantiated as part of an M-ABR deployment.
Said slightly differently, some operators have their Multicast Servers pull directly from their Packager while others
have their Multicast Servers pull from their CDN. In either case, the interface instantiated on the Multicast Server is
largely the same - it generally acts as an HTTP client and pulls content from the Packager or the CDN.
7.1.9 Multicast Controller - Packager (mc-pkg) Interface
This optional interface is internal to operators and is largely either vendor or operator proprietary.

Purpose: Control the content and bit rates of video segments being
generated by the Packager for the Multicast Server.

Control Operator specific (REST, etc.)


Protocol:

Content Operator specific (XML, JSON, etc.)


Container:

Note: this interface is optional. In some architectures the set of content being packaged (including bit rates, etc.) is
independent of the multicast service. In this case, the Multicast Server is told the subset of the overall set of
packaged content to multicast, but the Packager may not even be aware of the multicast-related systems.


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7.1.10 MPEG Source Interface (mpeg-si)


This interface is the start of the processing chain for Multicast-ABR where live linear content is streamed for real-
time packaging and subsequent multicast delivery.

Purpose: Provide live linear MPEG-TS streams directly or indirectly (via


Origin Server) to the Packager for segmentation and encryption.

Control Out of scope


Protocol:

Content MPEG-2 Transport Stream


Container:

7.1.11 BSS Interface (bssi)


This interface provides an optional mechanism for the BSS to inject policy into the Multicast Controller's decisions
about what content/bit rates to provide via multicast.

Purpose: Control the content/bit rates the Multicast Controller tells the
Packager and Multicast Server to prepare for multicast delivery.

Control Protocol: Operator specific (REST, etc.)

Content Operator specific (XML, JSON, etc.)


Container:

7.1.12 OSS Interface (ossi)


This interface provides a mechanism for the CCAP to provide data on multicast usage and per gateway multicast
viewership data.

Purpose: Primarily, multicast usage & viewership reporting.

Control Protocol: IPDR/SP; SNMP

Content XDR; BER


Container:

7.2 Security
Content Protection for Multicast ABR is not covered in detail in this technical report, as it is identical to the function
of the Content Protection system for unicast ABR.

7.3 Functional Overview


A typical M-ABR system can be thought of as a standard ABR video system, which uses a transparent caching
proxy resident in the Gateway. That transparent cache can be filled either via unicast or multicast. This allows the
Player to switch seamlessly between less-popular content only available on unicast and popular content available on
multicast as it is completely transparent to the Player whether the content is delivered to the Gateway via unicast or
multicast. In fact, the system can switch seamlessly between unicast and multicast delivery of the same stream, as
any content not delivered by multicast will be retrieved via unicast.
While this technology is referred to as "Multicast Adaptive Bit Rate (M-ABR)", it is important to note that
individual multicast streams do not "adapt" their bit rates. Rather, the term is used to refer to the multicast delivery
of video segment files to the Gateway which subsequently delivers these segments via HTTP when they are
requested by a streaming video Player. Each multicast stream only contains a single bit rate. The pre-filling of the


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Gateway's cache is expected to result in the reliable receipt of fragments by the Player, such that the Player does not
adapt and instead chooses to remain at that bit rate. However, for robustness, the manifest still generally contains
reference to other bit rate encodings of the same content stream. These other bit rates can be provided on a separate
multicast stream or may be available only via unicast retrieval.
7.3.1 Basic Player Retrieval
The basic model for the retrieval of new content by a Player is shown in the following figure:

Figure 3 – Initial Retrieval of New Content

It is important to note that there are no multicast-related steps in this sequence diagram. This sequence is identical to
the sequence which would occur in a unicast system with a transparent caching proxy - with one very small
exception: between Step 3 and Step 4 the Gateway modifies the manifest by dropping the last segment from the list. 4
This way the Gateway always knows about one more segment than the Player is aware of. While not important for
this initial content delivery or a channel change, this is important feature for multicast delivery and will be explained
in more detail later.
It is also important to note that since the steps taken are identical to that for unicast, the performance of an M-ABR
system is never worse than that of unicast and thus the QoE for the end user is also never worse than normal ABR
retrieval. This applies to both initial content access and channel changes.
Figure 3 only shows the retrieval of the very first video segment file in the content stream. The following figure
takes this one step further by showing two new aspects of this system:
1) The retrieval of multiple manifests and multiple segments as a video is watched.
2) The Gateway checking to see if a video segment is available in the cache before fetching the segment from
the CDN.
Except for the fact that the Gateway's cache can be pre-filled by multicast delivery, the system in the figure behaves
just like a unicast transparent caching proxy would.

4
Shortening the manifest which gets delivered to the Player can also be performed in the back office. Some operators have two
versions of the manifest for a given content stream – a shortened one for Players and a longer version for other components.


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Figure 4 – Continuous Delivery of New Content

Thus, playback and channel change functions are virtually identical to unicast. Similarly, the performance in terms
of channel change times and other QoE metrics is identical to unicast. Where the system differs from unicast is in
the way the cache can be filled if a given content stream is available via multicast.


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The following figure shows how the caching subsystem utilizes multicast to fill its cache.

Figure 5 – Multicast Cache Filling

The unicast content delivery sequence and the multicast cache filling sequence are initiated by the same trigger - a
Player request for new content. In the multicast cache filling sequence, if the Gateway doesn't have a priori
knowledge of (a) whether or not content is available via multicast and (b) what the (S,G) for that content is, then the
Gateway needs to determine by querying the Multicast Controller (as shown in steps 2 and 3). This request could
potentially lead to the Multicast Controller deciding to offer this content on multicast and signal that to the Multicast
Server (step 4).
An M-ABR-capable Gateway typically has a limited number of multicast receivers. There is one multicast receiver
for each stream being received and each has an associated cache for that stream. A typical Gateway might have 5
multicast receivers and, thus, be capable of receiving 5 simultaneous multicast streams. Steps 5 through 9 have to do
with freeing up a multicast receiver if they are all currently in use. Once a multicast receiver is available, Steps 10


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through 14 show the Gateway joining the multicast group for the M-ABR stream (with both IGMP/PIM and
DOCSIS messaging).
At this point the multicast receiver is available to start receiving video segments via NORM. These segments are
cached and made available via the transparent proxy to fulfill requests from the Player. However, there is a bit of a
race condition here - the Player is requesting segments sequentially (and potentially requesting segments faster than
it is playing them) and the Gateway is also getting these segments delivered sequentially via multicast. How does the
system increase the likelihood that there is a cache hit and ensure that segments have been delivered via multicast in
advance of them being requested by the Player? This is where manifest manipulation comes into play. As mentioned
previously, the Gateway typically knows about one more segment than the Player. The system uses this to provide
the Gateway with a timing advantage over the Player. The goal is for the Gateway to have segment n waiting in
cache when the Player requests it while, simultaneously, the multicast receiver for this stream is receiving segment
n+1 and, thus, staying ahead of the Player's requests.
7.3.2 M-ABR Infrastructure Interactions
The following sequence diagram is intended to illustrate a general data flow (not individual message exchanges)
which could be utilized to implement an M-ABR service.

Figure 6 – Example High-Level Infrastructure Interactions


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There are a number of ways a Multicast ABR infrastructure can be architected and, even with the same set of
components, there are a number of different ways content can flow through the system. This sequence diagram
shows a few of the most common alternative architectures. Video starts at the MPEG source and typically travels
from there to either the Packager or the CDN. If it goes to the CDN first, then it needs to go to the Packager so that it
can be segmented. In either case, segmented video should be available on both the CDN and the Packager (although,
it may only be available temporarily on the Packager).
The next couple of steps in the sequence diagram illustrate the fact that the Multicast Controller dictates what
content and bit rates are delivered via multicast. This is communicated to the Multicast Server and, potentially, to
the Packager as well. Once the Multicast Server knows the content to multicast it can get that content. Again, some
architectures have the MS get the content from the Packager and others from the CDN.
Different operators use different mechanisms to determine what content to multicast. In some architectures, the BSS
drives the set of content which is multicast (this is referred to as Policy-Driven Multicast in Section 8.2.2). In other
architectures the content to multicast is determined more dynamically based on actual viewership requests (this is
referred to as Viewership-Driven Multicast in Section 8.2.1). The mechanism used to determine the content to
multicast impacts the order of events in the sequence diagram (although, it is largely abstracted from the diagram).
The sequence diagram begins involving the Gateway in the last few exchanges. It shows the Gateway enquiring
about the (S,G) for a given M-ABR stream and the Multicast Controller providing that data. This can then
potentially trigger the Multicast Controller to communicate with the CCAP about the availability of multicast
capacity (although, in a real implementation, this is likely an on-going item of synchronization). It can also trigger
the MC to direct the MS to begin multicasting a given content stream which it may have content for, but is not
currently multicasting to the requesting Gateway's serving group.
While the exact order of many of these steps is implementation dependent, the intent of this section was to provide a
high-level overview of how these components might interoperate to provide an M-ABR service compatible with the
player-oriented flows shown in Section 7.3.1.


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8 MULTICAST CAPACITY-RELATED CONSIDERATIONS


The primary motivation for deploying IPTV over IP Multicast is improved efficiency over unicast. While time-
shifting, VOD and other viewer behavior changes have created more and more unicast viewership, it is still the case
that over 75% of tuners are tuned to live linear television in prime time [Eshet-14]; thus, the potential gains for
multicasting are substantial.

8.1 Background & Overview


Why multicast? Many papers have covered this topic, but the fundamental reason to multicast is to take advantage of
viewer behavior to maximize efficiency. There are different ways to look at it. [IMC-08] observes that "the top 10%
of channels account for 80% of viewers"; [Horrobin-13] observed that during prime time the top 10 channels were
viewed by 58% to 60% of viewers and the top 50 channels were viewed by 97% of the viewers. The bottom line is
that while DVRs and time-shifting have had an impact on user behavior, a large percentage of users are still
watching live linear TV and a small number of channels still command large viewership.
For multicast to be successful, the same packets for the same content have to reach multiple receivers at the same
time. This is true of live linear TV, but not true of cloud DVR, VOD or other types of viewership where the viewer
is either viewing different content than is currently being transmitted from broadcasters.
Best Practice: Multicast live linear TV.

Figure 7 – Concurrent Viewers versus Channel Rank

Maximizing efficiency was the same motivation for the development of SDV. People often think of QAM-based
SDV and IP-based multicast together, but they are really two different sides of the same coin. SDV maximizes
efficiency in the "long tail" by not wasting broadcast QAMs on channels with no active viewers. Multicast, on the


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other hand, maximizes efficiency in the "tall head" by not wasting IP unicast capacity sending the same content to
multiple viewers at the same time. Figure 7 uses a Zipf distribution with a shape value of 0.91, which is based on
internal CableLabs data collection during 3 prime-time periods. This does not align completely with the Zipf-
Mandelbrot modeling of [Ulm-09] and subsequent work, but this diagram is really just intended to illustrate the
overall shape of this type of viewership data with its "long tail" and "tall head" - which exists in both models.
While the emphasis when discussing IP Multicast is generally on improved efficiency in the access network, it
should be noted that multicast also saves capacity on metro/core networks that feed the CCAP. Just like in the access
network, when unicast content retrieval is used, the CDN has to ship multiple copies of the same content to the
CCAP. Thus, IP Multicast is important for reducing the capacity required to support IPTV in the aggregation
network as well.
This section deals with the "what", "where" and "when" aspects of M-ABR. How does an operator deploying M-
ABR best determine what content to provide via multicast and when to provide it via multicast? Once that content is
identified, where should the operator multicast it? (These last of these questions is clear on the level of an individual
node - content should be multicast only where it is requested, but this technical report deals with the "where"
question in the context of sizing Serving Groups.)

8.2 Multicast Content Selection Approaches


The IP Multicast Working Group has identified two main approaches to determining what content to provide via
multicast.
• Viewership Driven Multicast: any content with more than one simultaneous requester is multicast
• Policy Driven Multicast: n configured channels are available for request via multicast (typically, these are
the n most popular channels for a given time period and location)
This section describes these two different approaches in more detail.
8.2.1 Viewership-Driven Multicast
Viewership-Driven Multicast is a term defined in this document that is intended to describe an approach to
multicasting whereby the multicast controller determines what content is to be multicast primarily on the number of
simultaneous requests for that content. This is sometimes referred to as the "greater than one viewer" model, which
refers to the fact that (generally) in this model any content which has more than one viewer is multicast. Thus, this
approach takes any opportunity to improve efficiency by multicasting.
These systems are very dynamic as they match multicast content to real-time viewership very precisely. These
systems maximize multicast efficiency and preserve network capacity. This precision can come at the expense of
complexity as these systems need to be prepared to multicast any content available to viewers. Another negative of
this approach is that it is not "data friendly," meaning that it makes data traffic engineering more difficult on
bonding groups where both video and data co-exist. The reason data traffic engineering may be more difficult in
these cases is that there is no defined maximum amount of video traffic and, thus, video traffic could theoretically
"starve" data traffic, or at least consume more capacity than predicted at the expense of data capacity - potentially
creating congestion in the data portion of the bonding group.
8.2.2 Policy-Driven Multicast
Policy-Driven Multicast is a term defined in this document that is intended to describe an approach to multicasting
whereby the operator determines a specific set of channels that are made available for multicast delivery. Typically,
operators use viewership history during different time periods to determine the set of channels available for
multicast at any given time. This is sometimes referred to as the "top n channels" model, which refers to the fact that
in this model a maximum number of channels are made available for multicast. If a viewer requests a channel which
is available on multicast, they are joined to the corresponding multicast feed; otherwise, they are given unicast
video. Even if more than one viewer requests the same content, if it is not available in the current set of multicast
channels, they receive the content via unicast.
This model is not entirely static as the set of channels available on multicast can change, but the changes to this set
are driven by operator policy rather than real-time viewership. This allows the operator more control of both what
content is available via multicast (both which channels and at what bit rates) and how much multicast is happening


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on their systems at any given time. Since the set of channels available for multicast is generally relatively small and
changes relatively slowly, these systems are generally viewed as simpler. This simplicity potentially comes at the
expense of efficiency, as some channels with more than one viewer can be unicast in this model. However, it should
be noted, that if the number of channels available for multicast is sufficiently large and the operator's ability to
predict channel popularity is good, then this approach can be very nearly as efficient as Viewership-Driven
Multicast.
It should also be noted that just because n channels are available to be multicast doesn't mean that n channels are
being multicast. A given channel is only multicast in a given serving group when at least one gateway in that serving
group has requested access to that multicast channel by joining the corresponding multicast group.
8.2.3 Viewership & Policy Driven Multicast Hybrids
There are hybrids between these two models. One such hybrid is referred to in this technical report as "Viewership
Driven with Maximum Number of Multicast Channels". As in Viewership-Driven Multicast, the set of channels
multicast at any given time is driven by real-time requests for content. However, like Policy-Driven Multicast, there
are a maximum number of channels that are allowed to be multicast.
This approach requires a system which can support the dynamism of Viewership-Driven Multicast, but,
theoretically, this approach may not be as optimal as pure Viewership-Driven Multicast as there may be times where
the number of multicast channels required to match the requested viewership exceeds the configured maximum.
However, in practice, video traffic engineering can be utilized to ensure that this "multicast blocking" happens with
extremely low probability (e.g., 99.9% non-blocking). Further, this simplifies data traffic engineering as the portion
of the bonding group dedicated to data traffic has a guaranteed minimum value for its maximum capacity 5 rather
than a statistical maximum capacity.
Another hybrid between these two models is "Viewership-Driven with Limited Bit Rates". In a pure Viewership
Driven model, any stream with more than one consumer will be multicast regardless of bit rate. This hybrid model
adds a policy component that limits the number of bit rates which are available for multicast. Typically in this
model, bit rates are limited to HD-only or HD- and SD-only. This simplifies the Viewership-Driven model by
reducing the amount of content that the Multicast Server has to be prepared to multicast. This improvement comes at
the potential cost of reduced efficiency, but lower bit rates use less bandwidth and there are fewer consumers of
these streams, thus, this hybrid is generally viewed favorably by operators in the Working Group.
8.2.4 Multicast Content Selection Approach Considerations
While Viewership-Driven and Policy-Driven Multicast have very different mechanisms, it is important to note that
with some traffic engineering the efficiency differences between these two approaches can be minimized.
Figure 8 shows the number of individual viewers by channel rank. The red circle shows the viewership of the Top
10 channels. The blue circle shows the viewership of the Top 20 channels. The set of channels where there are at
least 2 viewers, which would be the set of channels which would be multicast if using the Viewership Driven
multicast model, contains fewer than 20 channels. Thus, in this example, a Policy-Driven Multicast approach where
"up to" the top 20 channels were multicast and a Viewership-Driven Multicast approach would have identical
efficiencies as they would be multicasting the same set of channels. By contrast, a Policy-Driven Multicast approach
where "up to" the top 10 channels were multicast would somewhat be less efficient than the Viewership-Driven
model where 13 channels have at least 2 viewers. However, both approaches capture the channels that provide the
biggest gains in efficiency and, in this example, the efficiency improvement of the Viewership-Driven approach
over the Policy-Driven approach when n = 10 is only 6.5%. 6

5
In this case the data capacity isn't fixed but a minimum value for the maximum data capacity is known. This is likely best
illustrated by example. If an operator had a bonding group with 36Mbps of aggregate capacity and allocated 16Mbps to video
that means that data would have a minimum maximum capacity of 20Mbps, which is to say, if the video portion of the bonding
group was under-utilized the data capacity could exceed 20Mbps, but it would never be less than 20Mbps (which is the data
capacity limit when the video capacity is fully utilized).
6
With the Policy Driven approach and the top 10 channels, in this example, the multicast gain is 65.2% (10 multicast and 6
unicast streams instead of the 46 required for pure unicast). Whereas, the Viewership Driven approach would have a multicast
gain of 71.7% (13 multicast streams instead of 46 unicast streams) so there is a 6.5% difference in multicast gain between the two
different models in this example.


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This section is intended to illustrate the point that these two methodologies, which differ substantially in complexity,
can be similar in their effectiveness under the right circumstances. That said, the figure is based on theoretical
behavior at a single point in time. Operators should look at the set of their Top N channels during different viewing
periods to see how dynamic this set is. If the set is relatively predictable and stable, then a Policy-Driven channel
selection approach could achieve acceptable levels of efficiency improvement without the complexity inherent in the
Viewership-Driven model. It should also be pointed out that an operator could migrate from the Policy-Driven
model to the Viewership-Driven model by only making modifications to the Multicast Controller, so there is
potential for a relatively straightforward evolution from one approach to the other.

7
Figure 8 – Concurrent Viewers versus Channel Rank with Viewers of Top N Channels

Whether Policy-Driven Multicast or Viewership-Driven Multicast is more efficient is entirely a function of:
• The maximum number of unique channels that a Policy-Driven Multicast system multicasts 8
• How well the specific channels that a Policy-Driven Multicast system chooses to multicast match the actual
viewer channel demand
Thus, choosing a multicast channel selection methodology should be based on other design considerations in
addition to efficiency, such as system complexity, ease of traffic engineering, etc.

7
This is the same figure as in Figure 7. Again using "best fit" numbers from 3 field measurement periods and a Zipf model. In
this case the model is using 100 active viewers and 588 available channels.
8
[Horrobin-13] indicates that 93-94% of live linear TV tuning during prime time is of the top 40 channels and 97% of tuning (at
any time) is of the top 50 channels.


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8.3 Serving Group Sizing Considerations


Another major design consideration in deploying M-ABR is Serving Group Size. In general, the larger the Serving
Group then the greater the "multicast gain" [Ulm-09] [Horrobin-13] for video. However, if operators are utilizing
multi-service bonding groups where both the data and video service share the same bonding group (refer to Section
9.1.1), there is a tradeoff which needs to be considered.
Data service is largely a unicast service, thus as Data Serving Groups get larger and serve more CMs/Gateways,
there is more contention for a fixed capacity in that Serving Group. Thus, operators deploying multi-service Serving
Groups need to balance the desire to maximize multicast efficiency/gain for their video service with the need to
manage contention/utilization for their data service.
Typically a Data Serving Group is a single fiber node. Data Serving Group sizes have been coming down as usage
has been increasing and as operators have looked to increase capacity. If operators maintain their Data Serving
Group size and add IP Multicast Video Service to this same Serving Group, it limits the potential number of
receivers of M-ABR streams, which reduces the potential multicast gain.
If operators use dedicated DOCSIS QAMs (or CCAP QAM replication) for their M-ABR service, then the Video
Serving Group size can be increased by spanning multiple nodes (without negatively impacting the Data Service).
However, this comes at the expense of no longer being able have data traffic consume unused video capacity and
somewhat defeats the purpose of transitioning to "All IP" as the access network is not a true multi-service network.

8.4 Centralized versus Decentralized Multicast


Another question in the vein of "where" to multicast is whether the Multicast Server should be centralized or should
be decentralized. In Decentralized Multicast, the Multicast Server is co-located with the CDN Edge Cache such that
unicast ABR and M-ABR generally originate in the same facility. In Centralized Multicast, the Multicast Server is
located in a more centralized location than the Edge Cache.
From a capacity perspective, there is very little difference between these two models. In both cases the capacity
needed is proportional to the number of streams rather than proportional to the number of viewers as the CDN
(which feeds unicast) gets one copy per stream just as the Multicast Server both consumes and delivers one copy per
stream.
However, there may be advantages to centralized multicast - especially early in deployment where the number of
potential M-ABR viewers is low. In this case, centralized Multicast Servers would reduce the initial hardware
investment required to deploy this service. There are few other benefits to centralized multicast, perhaps simplified
administration or deployment, but there are potential performance impacts from increased latency and the increased
complexity of maintaining a larger multicast footprint. In general, in the long term, operators in the Working Group
were looking towards decentralizing their Multicast Server deployments.

8.5 IP Multicast Migration


Another design consideration operators wrestle with is "when" to begin supporting M-ABR. To look at a degenerate
case, if there is only one M-ABR capable Gateway on a node, then there is no advantage to multicast over unicast. If
there are only two M-ABR capable Gateways on a node, if they both happen to be in use and tuned to the same
channel at the same time, then there is an advantage to IP multicast. If one extends this logic, it becomes clear that
given variability in viewership (with respect to time, channel and bit rate) there needs to be an established
population of M-ABR capable Gateways to achieve any real efficiency benefit from M-ABR. While average M-
ABR usage can be an improvement over unicast ABR at relatively low viewership levels (~10 active viewers), the
set of channels viewed at any one time is extremely variable, thus for M-ABR to improve efficiency over unicast
99.9% of the time requires roughly 80 active viewers [Ulm-09].
The following section shows an approach to estimating the penetration level required for M-ABR capable Gateways
and ABR players to achieve a given level of ABR Players tuned to live linear TV during times of peak usage. Both
scenarios take a typical node size in households passed (HHP) as well as cable and digital cable take rates to
calculate a number of Digital Subscribers per Node. To this number a "M-ABR Penetration" rate and an ABR
Players per Sub" rate are applied. Clearly, these numbers are going to vary by operator and over time. Operators


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who migrate to IP Multicast video and aggressively deploy M-ABR capable Gateways will be able to achieve
efficiency benefits from IP Multicast a greater portion of the time than operators who deploy more conservatively.
Table 2 – Multicast ABR Deployment Scenarios

Parameter Value Parameter Value


Households Passed per Node 500 Households Passed per Node 500
Cable Take Rate 60% Cable Take Rate 60%
Digital Take Rate 85% Digital Take Rate 85%
Digital Subscribers per Node 255 Digital Subscribers per Node 255
M-ABR Gateway Penetration 25% M-ABR Gateway Penetration 75%
ABR Player per Sub 1 ABR Player per Sub 2.8
ABR Players per Node 64 ABR Players per Node 536
Peak Simultaneous Usage 70% Peak Simultaneous Usage 70%
Linear TV Usage 80% Linear TV Usage 80%
ABR Players Tuned to Linear at Peak 36 ABR Players Tuned to Linear at Peak 300

Per [Ulm-09], the scenario on the left with 25% M-ABR Gateway penetration and only a single ABR Player per Sub
(either IP-STB or companion device) would only save around 25% on average and would have no capacity savings
due to multicast during times of high variability. The scenario on the right with 75% M-ABR Gateway penetration
and multiple ABR Players per sub would have an estimated savings of over 60% on average and still around 50%
during times of high variability. Thus, the level of penetration of both multicast-capable gateways and ABR Players
tremendously impacts the potential multicast gain that operators can achieve.
Operators may want to consider the possibility of deploying M-ABR capable Gateways before even having an M-
ABR infrastructure in place. Then, once penetration levels of M-ABR capable Gateways in the field is on track to
provide multicast gain a significant portion of the time, an operator could begin deploying M-ABR infrastructure
and turning up IP multicast video service.


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9 MULTICAST DELIVERY DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS


In M-ABR, there are fundamental tradeoffs between IP multicast efficiency and latency, bandwidth efficiency,
complexity, etc. For example, the recommended multicast transfer protocol (NORM) has the ability to utilize
content-level FEC to minimize the potential for loss. Using NORM's FEC capability will add overhead to the
content, but it may reduce the potential for multicast/unicast retransmission and increase overall efficiency.
Similarly, NORM has the ability to retransmit over multicast in case multiple receivers missed the same content
transmission; however, using this capability can increase latency. Operators who want maximal multicast efficiency
may want to retransmit over multicast at the cost of latency, but other operators may be willing to accept reduced
multicast efficiency to minimize latency. Further, the potential for lost transmissions is a function of plant
conditions, physical-layer optimization, transport-layer FEC and other factors. Thus, what is optimal may not only
vary between operators, but might even vary across regions within the same operator.
This section explores the design considerations and tradeoffs related to the actual mechanics of M-ABR delivery. It
is focused on the question: "How should operators best design their M-ABR systems to meet the service design
goals detailed in Section 5.4?" Or, when there is no clear-cut best practice, "What design tradeoffs should operators
focus on when designing their M-ABR systems?"

9.1 Access Network Design Considerations


The Best Practices in Access Network Design hinge on a single fundamental question:
Are video and data service going to share the same QAM channels?
This question is a combination of technical and philosophical, but does involve a fairly large tradeoff. Operators
need to decide whether it is more efficient to increase multicast gain by having larger M-ABR-only Serving Groups
or more efficient to integrate the video and data services such that capacity unused by M-ABR can be used by the
data service.
Another design consideration for examining this tradeoff has to do with flexibility and service agility - operators
need to decide if the service agility benefits of a truly multi-service network are worth the cost of potentially lower
multicast gains which are inherent in an integrated multi-service network. 9 Finally, despite the disadvantage in
service agility, there may be valid legal, policy or business reasons to maintain video on separate QAMs from other
services.
9.1.1 Access Network Quality of Service
With Best Effort packet forwarding, it is possible that downstream bonding groups will occasionally experience
congestion due to higher than average utilization. When bonding groups carry a mix of traffic for various services
(as discussed further in the next section), traffic loads are even more unpredictable and short-term congestion events
are expected. To some degree the operator can use traffic engineering practices to minimize the occurrence of these
events, but it is not feasible to prevent them entirely.
The goal of M-ABR delivery is to significantly reduce the downstream traffic load for popular streams. However, if
M-ABR segments arrive late or experience loss, this leads to retransmission of the missing or late data. If the content
is extremely popular, the amount of retransmission traffic can be many times the amount of the original
transmission. If such popular M-ABR segments are delayed significantly due to congestion of the bonding group,
this could result in a cascade breakdown as all tuned Gateways experience cache misses, and revert to unicast
retrieval, further exacerbating the bonding group congestion, and affecting all services.
Thus, for stability of the network and protection of all of the services that traverse it, it is extremely important that
M-ABR traffic be delivered reliably and in a timely fashion.

9
This is because data serving groups generally need to be smaller to keep utilization within operational bounds and to minimize
contention. That said, Table 2 showed that the number of ABR Players Tuned at Peak can reach substantial numbers even with a
node size of 500 HHP, but this is very dependent on the number of players per subscriber and the M-ABR gateway penetration.
So, if future viewer behavior is consistent with that of today and penetration continues to increase, it is possible that, over time,
even with node sizing optimized for data service, meaningful multicast gain can be achieved.


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DOCSIS provides QoS on a per Service Flow basis. Thus, the following best practices have been identified.
Best Practice: M-ABR video should traverse dedicated multicast Service Flows.
Best Practice: M-ABR multicast Service Flows should be configured to provide enhanced Quality of Service over
Best Effort traffic. 10
DOCSIS provides two different mechanisms that can be used to ensure enhanced Quality of Service to the packets
of a downstream Service Flow:
1. Traffic Priority - When a Service Flow is given elevated priority relative to other traffic, the CCAP
scheduler will expedite delivery of the Service Flow's traffic. 11 As long as the total amount of traffic with
the same or greater priority does not exceed the capacity of the channel set, delivery can be assured. So,
along with traffic priority configuration, some traffic engineering and admission control would be needed
for this mechanism to be successful.
2. Minimum Reserved Traffic Rate - When a Service Flow is configured with a Minimum Reserved Traffic
Rate, the CCAP scheduler will provide highest priority treatment to the Service Flow as long as the actual
traffic rate does not exceed the configured value.
QoS for non-multicast video traffic can have an impact on Channel Change Time and other QoE metrics. In
particular, channel changes often involve unicast retrieval of the initial segments for the new channel. If these initial
segments do not receive QoS guarantees, this could increase the channel change time. If the IP video service is
intended as a legacy video replacement service, then QoS for unicast ABR traffic should be considered. However,
QoS for unicast ABR traffic is beyond the scope of this technical report.
9.1.2 Multi-Service vs Dedicated Channels/Bonding Groups
At the beginning of this section, two fundamental questions were posed. The second of these was whether or not
data and M-ABR video would traverse the same RF channels. This section addresses best practices and design
considerations which come out as a consequence of that decision.
If an operator decides that they want to pursue a multi-service integrated network, then another question arises from
this decision:
How do operators meet the design goal of reliably delivering M-ABR video when they are mixing M-ABR video
into channels that also deliver data and other IP-based services?
To answer this subsequent question, the next subsection looks at Service Coexistence.
9.1.2.1 Service Coexistence
When multiple services share the same channels/bonding groups, care needs to be taken that these services don't
negatively impact one another. With voice and data service coexistence, this is done via admission control. After n
calls are admitted, subsequent calls are rejected. This ensures a guaranteed minimum amount of overall capacity for
the data service sharing the same bonding group as the higher-priority voice service. With content selection
mechanisms that limit M-ABR up to a fixed number of channels, there is also an inherently guaranteed minimum
amount of overall capacity remaining for the data service.
However, with pure Viewership-Driven approaches to multicast content selection, any number of channels can
potentially be multicast. Since M-ABR requires higher-priority service than unicast ABR or Best Effort data, it is
possible that M-ABR traffic can negatively impact the capacity available for the data service. Thus, the data service
needs protections to ensure that it has a guaranteed minimum amount of capacity.
To address this issue, the IP Multicast OSSI focus team recently developed a mechanism called Admitted Multicast
Aggregate Bandwidth, which is designed for ensuring managed coexistence of multicast and unicast traffic. Rather
than creating a hard-limit for overall multicast within a bonding group (or MAC domain interface) on the CCAP,
10
This does not necessarily mean that providing guaranteed QoS is also a Best Practice for unicast ABR. Some operators may
want to provide QoS for unicast ABR while other operators may recognize that only a single viewer is impacted by the quality of
this stream and want to rely on traffic engineering and the inherent adaptability of ABR to ensure QoE for unicast media streams.
11
The specific treatment of Traffic Priority by the CCAP scheduler (e.g. strict priority, weighted fair queuing, weighted round
robin, etc.) varies by CCAP implementation, so the operator should work with their CCAP vendors to understand the optimal
approach for their specific situation.


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this mechanism creates a new alert from the CCAP, which can be utilized to alert that a given capacity allocation
threshold has been exceeded.
This alert can be used by the Multicast Controller to limit additional multicast in this bonding group. This approach
adds complexity to the Multicast Controller, as it needs to know the association between multicast flows and
channels/bonding groups. However, it also reduces traffic-engineering complexity (refer to Section 8.2.3) and
ensures a clean segregation of data and multicast video services.
Design Consideration: If M-ABR and data services share the same channels/bonding group, is a statistical bound on
maximum video usage sufficient or not? There aren't really pros and cons to this decision - either method can work.
The question is which method is an operator's capacity planning group more comfortable with: a soft statistical
bound on data and video capacity or a more deterministic "guaranteed" maximum capacity allocation for the video
service (which simultaneously provides a guaranteed minimum amount of capacity for data service).
Design Consideration: As noted earlier, if M-ABR and data services share the same channels/bonding group, that
means they have the same Serving Group size. This is challenging because for multicast efficiency, the larger the
Serving Group the greater the efficiency. However, as the data service is a unicast service, the larger the Serving
Group, the greater the contention for bandwidth. Thus, the needs of these two services are fundamentally at odds and
operators will need to balance the desire for M-ABR efficiency with the need to provide sufficient capacity for the
data service.
The Admitted Multicast Aggregate Bandwidth is the only standard DOCSIS mechanism for segregating services
within a bonding group. That said, there may be additional vendor-specific mechanisms which can be used to
achieve similar goals. However, such mechanisms are beyond the scope of this technical report.
9.1.2.2 Dedicated M-ABR Channels
If operators choose to use dedicated M-ABR channels/bonding groups to achieve greater multicast gain than is
possible with smaller serving groups (especially in early deployments) then the issue of service co-existence goes
away. The M-ABR video service and the data service co-exist by residing in separate dedicated channels/bonding
groups. Thus, no admission control or other mechanisms are needed to ensure that these services do not negatively
impact one another.
9.1.3 Dynamic Multicast Service Flow Creation
In Section 9.1.1 the technical report identified the Best Practice of using dedicated Service Flows for M-ABR traffic.
What that section did not address was:
How should operators create DOCSIS Service Flows specifically for M-ABR traffic?
There are two primary mechanisms that can be utilized. DOCSIS 3.0 provides a feature called Multicast Join
Authorization that can dynamically create new Group Service Flows when triggered by an IGMP Join. PacketCable
Multimedia also has the capability of creating multicast Service Flows dynamically.
Group Service Flows are a simple mechanism for creating QoS-enabled multicast Service Flows. There is a set of
rules on the CCAP that indicate (a) which devices are authorized to join which multicast groups and (b) the QoS
which should be used for different multicast groups. When an IGMP or MLD message arrives indicating that a given
device would like to join a multicast group, the CCAP first performs an authorization check for the requesting
device and multicast group. If this check succeeds, then the CCAP adds a DSID for this multicast group to the
bonding group of the requesting CM/gateway and generates an upstream PIM request for the multicast content.
When the multicast content begins to flow, its addressing is checked against provisioned classification rules for
multicast traffic. The multicast traffic gets the QoS associated with the highest-priority Group Classifier Rule that
matches the traffic.
Design Considerations: PacketCable Multimedia is a more flexible mechanism for creating QoS-enabled multicast
Service Flows. Thus, it is likely a better long-term mechanism for establishing and controlling IP multicast Service
Flows. However, many operators have business reasons for avoiding PacketCable Multimedia and their initial needs
for IP multicast Service Flows can be met via the simpler Multicast Join Authorization/Group Service Flow
mechanism.
Given that different operators have different design goals and business constraints there is no clear-cut best practice
for dynamically creating multicast Service Flows.


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9.1.4 Channels per Bonding Group


Unicast video can generally be streamed using a Gateway's existing Bonding Group (unless there are load balancing
or other considerations). However, it is possible to deliver multicast video within the frequency range of a given
Gateway's wideband tuner, but not as part of the Gateway's current bonding group. To access this content the
Gateway needs to stop receiving a current channel and start receiving another.
Whether a given multicast session is being transmitted on a channel which is part of a Gateway's current bonding
group or transmitted on a channel which is not part of that bonding group, a DBC exchange is required to join that
multicast session. However, to add or remove a downstream channel from a bonding group takes additional time for
retuning the Gateway's receiver and acquiring the new downstream channel. Thus, any DBC operation that requires
retuning takes longer than one which does not.
As described in Sections 9.3.4 and 9.3.5, unless an M-ABR channel is cached, channel change time is largely a
function of unicast behavior. Thus, using a DBC to gain access to a multicast stream will not increase the channel
change time, but will increase the time to multicast.
Best Practice: To minimize time to multicast, all multicast channels for a given Serving Group should be in the
same bonding group. 12
This Best Practice may seem unrealistic - how could it be possible to have a bonding group which contains all of the
M-ABR channels? Aren't a lot of channels going to be required? The reality is that looking at the maximum number
of SDV channels watched and how many were unicast versus multicast, [Eshet-14] showed that only 5 to 10
channels are required to support even very large numbers of tuners. 13
Table 3 – Worst Case Unicast vs. Multicast QAM Requirements per [Eshet-14]

# Tuners Unicast Multicast


(Max DS) (Max DS)
125 10 5
250 17 8
500 35 10

These findings have broad implications. Not only does it give operators a sense of the maximum number of channels
that will likely want to be multicast (i.e., back office sizing), but it also gives operators input on the number of
demodulators they will need on their gateways to achieve this Best Practice. For example, a 24-downstream
Gateway could have 8 QAMs tuned to channels that are primarily used for M-ABR video (but opportunistically
contain data) and still have 16 QAMs available for data and unicast video service.
9.1.5 Access Network Security
This subsection is less concerned with service co-existence and service quality and more concerned with another
Access Network function - security or, more precisely, privacy. DOCSIS provides a Baseline Privacy Interface
(BPI) that is utilized to ensure that a hacked CM cannot be utilized to snoop a neighbor's traffic on the DOCSIS RF
network. This is essential for unicast traffic, but given that ABR video uses end-to-end encryption, it is not
necessary in this case.

12
This is a little bit of an oversimplification. Multicasting multiple channel lineups could warrant a different approach. For
example, an operator might have two video tiers – a basic tier and a higher tier that includes basic, plus additional channels. In
this case, it might make sense to have one bonding group for the basic tier and a second bonding group for the higher tier, but the
principle remains that to maximize QoE operators should avoid situations where CM's need to retune to access channels which
are part of their channel line up. Note, this may mean that an operator might have, for example, a 24-channel CM for one tier and
a 32-channel CM for another.
13
The following table demonstrates the potential savings from using a multicast based Linear TV solution. It was derived from
an analysis of Live viewership data collected 24x7 from 10,000's of STB over a month long period. It shows the maximum upper
limit for various Service Group sizes with dozens of SG at each size. Note that there were ~2.75 STB per subscriber for this data.
Actual bandwidth capacity may vary dependent on a number of key variables including total programs being offered,
SD/HD/UHD viewership mix, SG sizes; but the relative savings from using multicast should be similar for other configurations.


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Best Practice: Group Service Flows utilized for transporting M-ABR streams should disable baseline privacy and
other access-layer security.
This approach reduces encapsulation overhead and the amount of processing required for encryption and decryption
within the overall system.

9.2 Multicast Functional Design Considerations


This section addresses design considerations more directly related to the multicast function itself - aspects of
multicast such as group membership and transport protocols are discussed.
9.2.1 Multicast Group Membership Design Considerations
IETF specifications for IPv4 multicast are long established and well understood. IPv6, while somewhat newer,
utilizes multicast as a core part of its functionality and, thus, provides robust multicast capabilities. Some operators,
however, are using IPv6 widely in the access network while still utilizing an IPv4-based multicast infrastructure. In
this scenario, MLDv2 would be used in the access network, but this inherently IPv6 protocol would need to specify
IPv4 multicast groups for membership.
Open Issue: How should gateways utilize MLDv2 (an IPv6-centric protocol) to joint IPv4 multicast groups?
Members of the IP Multicast Working Group are working with the IETF to address this issue.
9.2.2 Multicast Transport Layer Functional Design Considerations
Many reliable multicast protocols have been developed over the years, but few, if any, have been widely deployed.
Certainly, none have been deployed on the scale that is being discussed by cable operators for M-ABR deployments.
Initially, one operator developed a protocol. However, lack of standardization pushed them to look at other protocols
with more standards-body support.
After careful consideration of many options, the industry has identified NACK-Oriented Reliable Multicast
(NORM) [RFC 5740] as the protocol of choice for delivery of M-ABR. The primary reason for this is that NORM is
extremely flexible. For example, it can be utilized to transfer data streams or files, with or without FEC and with just
error detection or also multicast retransmission. Full discussion of the selection of NORM or a comparison to other
reliable multicast protocols is outside the scope of this technical report.
Best Practice: Utilize the NACK Oriented Reliable Multicast (NORM) protocol as the multicast transport protocol.
9.2.2.1 FEC
The first operator decision regarding NORM is whether or not to use NORM's Forward Error Correction feature
[RFC 5052]. The pro of using FEC is that it can reduce the amount of traffic required to replace errored packets - a
single parity packet can "protect" multiple data packets. In the case where there are multiple errored packets within a
single FEC block, it is possible that a single FEC packet can "fix" more than one.
Best Practice: Utilizing NORM FEC is a recommended practice for reducing repair traffic. 14
The next decision facing an operator is whether to use proactive or reactive FEC. In the first case, FEC parity
packets are always sent in addition to content packets - whether they are needed by any receiver or not. In the
second case, FEC parity packets are only transmitted upon request. Clearly, proactive FEC has the cost of constant
overhead. However, when properly tuned, this overhead can be fairly minimal (e.g. less than 5%) and, when
combined with a fairly robust physical layer, can virtually eliminate the need for repair traffic. Whether unicast
repair or multicast repair is used, proactive FEC leverages multicast, thus it can repair errors in different parts of the
same transmission at multiple gateways.
Design Consideration: Operators should decide whether the overhead cost of multicasting proactive FEC is less
than the cost of the corresponding repair traffic. Factors such as the amount of FEC needed to hit a target error rate
under given conditions and whether unicast or multicast repair is in use could impact this decision. Luckily, NORM

14
If an operator is using reactive FEC and using unicast repair, then using FEC may or may not be a best practice. In this
situation the CDN would need to be able to send parity packets in addition to "pure" content packets, which is an additional
requirement on the CDN solely to enable the potential reduction in repair traffic that FEC provides.


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should make it fairly easy to perform measurements in networks of different quality to determine the answer to this
question.
The final high-level decision regarding FEC for operators is - how much FEC protection should be used? The
answer to this question likely not only varies across operators, but across regions at the same operator or across
systems within a region. It is up to operators if they want a single operational parameter or if they want to vary this
across their footprint.
People tend to talk about Codeword Error Rate (CER) as though it is a parameter of the channel and constant across
the channel, but the reality in an HFC network is that CER varies by CM. This is because each CM has a different
location and each individual drop can have different noise characteristics, which can impact the CER. To monitor
the CER, operators need to use SNMP to poll their CMs for their Unerrored, Corrected and Uncorrectable
Codewords. 15 These are continuous counters, so at least two samples need to be taken so that a delta can be
calculated. The CER is the (delta Uncorrectable) / (delta Unerrored + delta Corrected + delta Uncorrectable) where
the counters are read at the same time. A single uncorrectable codeword error will cause an entire packet to be
dropped. Thus, codeword error rate and packet loss rate can be correlated.
NORM uses Reed-Solomon FEC as described in [RFC 5052] and [RFC 5510]. NORM sizes code blocks (k) and
parity (n - k) in units of packets. The following table assumes a maximum payload size of a NORM sender message
to be 1500B 16 and a video segment size of 2MB (which is 2 secs of an 8 Mbps stream).
Table 4 – NORM FEC Protection & Overhead Scenarios
FEC Block Size (k) (pkts) 200 200 200 252 400 17 800
FEC Parity (n-k) (pkts) 20 10 2 2 2 2
% of Packets Protected w/o Re-TX 5.0% 2.5% 0.5% 0.40% 0.25% 0.125%
FEC Block Size (KB 1000B=1KB) 300K 300K 300K 378K 600K 1,200K
FEC Blocks per Video Segment (pkts) 7 7 7 6 4 2
Overhead % 10.5% 5.25% 1.05% 0.90% 0.60% 0.30%

CableLabs obtained data from 5 nodes in the network of a leading operator monitored over 24 hours and calculated
the codeword error rate for each CM in the node every 50 minutes. These 24 per-CM samples were then averaged to
get a CM-by-CM CER for the node and these per-CM hourly averages were also averaged to get an average CER
for the node.
Table 5 – Codeword Error Rate

CMs in Node Avg CER by CM


113 2.2014E-07
49 4.5036E-06
72 1.2905E-07
75 9.4050E-09
177 1.2778E-04
Average 2.6529E-05
Avg (drop best & worst) 1.6176E-06

The 177 CM node has by far the worst average with a CER of 0.0128%. This was due to four highly disadvantaged
CMs that experienced uncorrectable codeword errors in every hour of the sample period. These worst CMs had an
average hourly CER of (1.3%, 0.54%, 0.39% and 0.0004%), but they were very atypical, as 78.5% of the CMs in
this same node did not have a single uncorrectable codeword during the 24-hour sample period. Assuming an 8

15
These can be found in the docsIfSigQExtUnerroreds, docsIfSigQExtCorrecteds and docsIfSigQExtUncorrectables.
16
This is likely not an ideal value as NORM with FEC has ~32B of overhead and, thus, such a segment would not fit in a single
DOCSIS frame, but this number is useful for illustration.
17
[NORM-DEV] states "The maximum blockSize allowed by the 8-bit Reed-Solomon codes in NORM is 255, with the further
limitation that (blockSize + numParity) <= 255." This would preclude larger values examined in this table. However, in limited
experimentation with these larger values, they appeared to work.


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Mbps HD stream on a 256 QAM channel, this results in an approximate PLR of 16.0%, 6.7%, 4.8% 18 and 0.0049%
for these 4 worst performing modems or an average PLR for the node of 0.15%.
Operators need to decide if they want to design their FEC for the worst-case CMs or average CMs or the worst case
node or the average node. Operators should also decide how much retransmission traffic is acceptable and look at
the tradeoff between retransmissions and FEC overhead. That said, Table 4 shows that in this admittedly small
sample, the packet loss rate of the worst CM would not have been repaired even adding 10% FEC overhead.
However, the loss rate of all but the worst 3 CMs in this node would have been repaired using 0.6% FEC overhead.
This analysis assumes that the occurrence of uncorrectable codewords is uniform. Given the bursty nature of noise
in HFC plants, this is not a realistic assumption. For this reason, field testing needs to be done before more
authoritative analysis can be performed and best practices can be identified. However, operators should be reassured
in knowing that the amount of FEC overhead needed to protect the vast majority of M-ABR traffic is likely less than
1% and that even having 4 FEC parity packets per video segment file can provide significant protection.
9.2.2.2 Multicast Repair versus Unicast Repair
NORM is a very flexible protocol. It allows for modes where errors in a stream can be repaired as part of the
multicast transport protocol itself, but it also allows for modes where errors in the stream are only detected by
receivers and repaired independently of NORM. In this technical report, these two models are respectively referred
to as Multicast Repair and Unicast Repair.
Multicast Repair is more efficient when multiple receivers have the same error, as only a single repair packet needs
to be sent to provide this repair to all of the errored receivers. (Unicast repair, in contrast, would need to send
separate repair packets to each errored receiver individually.) However, multicast repair is not deterministic - if
guaranteed QoS parameters are set based on a given per stream data rate, then multicast repair traffic will create a
flow which violates these boundaries. With multicast repair, one highly errored receiver can increase delay for the
entire group of receivers acquiring a given stream (video retransmissions need to be timely to be useful and inserting
these retransmissions into the stream can delay other packets in a CBR stream). Further, a malicious listener could
potentially intentionally increase a stream's delay - pretending to be a highly errored receiver - unless security
measures were put into place to prevent this.
Unicast Repair is as efficient as multicast repair when errors across receivers of the same stream are uncorrelated -
i.e., it is uncommon that multiple receivers are unable to receive packets in the same FEC frame. Unicast repair may
also be desirable in an environment where repair is uncommon as multicast repair has scalability and security
concerns which unicast repair does not. The only disadvantage to unicast repair is the potential for inefficiency
compared to multicast repair in environments where errors among receivers are highly correlated.
To get some insight as to whether the efficiency gains of Multicast Repair are worth the additional complexity it
requires, an analysis was performed of downstream uncorrectable codeword error rates. This analysis was performed
on a small set of pre-existing data. This data consists of CER measurements for a 24-hour period on 5 different
nodes. For the first 10 minutes of every hour, codeword error measurements were made every minute. Then a single
50-minute measurement was made for the remainder of the hour. 19 The goal of the analysis was to determine the
number of CMs with errors in the same time window. While this wouldn't guarantee that errors occurred for these
CMs on exactly the same codeword, if there was no correlation even within the same minute, then the same
codeword definitely was not errored for modems without an error.
Figure 9 shows on an absolute basis the number of CMs with errors in the same minute during the day. Figure 10
shows this same data on a percentage basis. It can be seen that on both an absolute basis and a percentage basis the
1-minute correlation of errors across CMs was low. When errors did occur, the Codeword Error Rate was relatively
low (from the perspective of the number of packets which would need to be retransmitted); when more than 3 CMs
had codeword errors in the same minute, the average codeword error rate amongst the errored CMs was 0.005%.
Similarly, when the percent of CMs with codeword errors exceeded 6%, the codeword error rate amongst the errored
CMs was 0.015%.

18
It should be noted that these worst performing CMs are likely out of spec for their service and probably should be repaired.
19
This is the same data set used in the previous section for the FEC analysis.


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Figure 9 – CM Count with Downstream Codeword Errors (1 min.)

Figure 10 – CM Percentage with Downstream Codeword Errors (1 min.)


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The focus of this analysis was on the 1-minute data as error correlation across 1 minute is more likely to indicate an
error to the same code word than error correlation across 50 minutes. However, the 50-minute data was also
examined. While it is unclear the degree of correlation on a shorter timescale, this data did show one outlier which
likely warrants additional investigation or, at the very least, design consideration. On the sample date, one of the 5
sample nodes had one 50-minute interval where 69% of the CMs in the node experienced a codeword error. This is
shown in Figure 11. While the average codeword error rate amongst CMs experiencing an error in this period was
very low, 0.0028% this reveals the potential for infrequent bursts of higher codeword error rates. Servers facilitating
unicast repair should be sized with these peaks in mind.

Figure 11 – CM Percentage with Downstream Codeword Errors (50 min.)

This extremely limited data set shows that the number of CMs with potentially correlated errors is relatively small
compared to the overall population of CMs. Thus, the primary benefit of Multicast Repair - its ability to fix issues
with multiple receivers simultaneously - may not apply in reasonably maintained DOCSIS networks. Further, there
are negatives to using Multicast Repair that are clearly avoided when using Unicast Repair.
It should be noted that these measurements were all at the physical layer; transport layer FEC reduces the amount of
unicast repair traffic required to correct for codeword errors at the physical layer. Pro-active FEC can substantially
reduce the need for unicast repair traffic as transport-layer parity data received with the transmission can often be
used to replace missing data without retransmission.
While operators should conduct their own measurements and analysis, the working group has identified unicast
repair as a tentative Best Practice.
Tentative Best Practice: Utilize unicast repair when errors occur in data delivered via NORM.
The efficiency of unicast repair depends on its implementation. If an entire video segment file is downloaded when
just a single NORM packet was undelivered, then unicast repair can be hugely inefficient. The drop of a single
~1500B packet could cause the retransmission of an entire 2 MB segment of video (2 second segment of 8 Mbps
HD video). However, a more optimal implementation can recognize the missing portion of the data and utilizes


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HTTP's Range-Request mechanism to fill in exactly the piece of content that is missing. (This requires both server-
side and client-side support.)
Best Practice: The Gateway should utilize HTTP Range-Requests for repairing missing video segment data.
9.2.2.3 HTTP Header Acquisition & Delivery
As discussed previously, the Gateway acts as a transparent caching proxy for the Player. This requires that the
Gateway support HTTP for retrieval by the Player. If the Gateway is proxying unicast content, then the Gateway can
essentially pass the HTTP headers from the CDN through to the Player. However, if NORM is used simply to
deliver video segment files, then this header information can be lost.
The first step in ensuring that HTTP headers are available for M-ABR content is to see that these headers get to the
Multicast Server. A simple way to achieve that is to have the Multicast Server pull content from Origin/CDN or
Packager via HTTP as though it were a Player. Thus, the Multicast Server has the appropriate HTTP header
information available to deliver to the Gateway via multicast.
Best Practice: The Multicast Server should pull its content via HTTP so that it can deliver the appropriate HTTP
headers to the Gateway.
Once at the Multicast Server, the challenge becomes how does the HTTP header information get delivered to the
Gateway? As the MS is going to be delivering video segments via NORM, the most straightforward mechanism is to
also utilize NORM to deliver these headers. Conveniently, NORM provides a message called the NORM INFO
message that can be utilized to send metadata about files delivered via NORM DATA messages, and HTTP headers
can be thought of as metadata.
Best Practice: The Multicast Server should utilize NORM INFO messaging to deliver HTTP header info associated
with a given video segment such that the Gateway can reassemble the full HTTP response from the Origin/CDN for
the Player.
9.2.3 Multicast Address Determination
In M-ABR there are at least two mechanisms relating to content addressing - the channel lineup shown to the
subscriber via the Player GUI and the Multicast Channel Map (MCM) utilized by the Gateway to determine the
(S,G) of multicast content. The channel lineup data includes the URI of a given video asset. The Multicast Channel
Map provides the mapping between a video asset URI and the (S,G) of that asset, if that asset is being multicast.
Video assets can be accessed via unicast without knowledge of the (S,G) of the multicast stream for the asset. Thus,
customer-facing functions such as channel changes and initial content "tuning," which rely on unicast access
initially, do not have a dependency on access to the current Multicast Channel Map. Therefore, while delay in access
to the MCM will negatively impact metrics important to operators such as time to multicast and multicast efficiency,
timely access to the MCM does not impact customer quality of experience.
However, given that delays for the retrieval of the MCM will increase time to multicast and reduce multicast
efficiency, it is still desirable to minimize the time it takes to acquire the MCM. Delivery of the MCM in advance of
its being needed provides the best possible performance, as the acquisition time for the MCM is non-existent.
Best Practice: The Gateway should ensure that time for acquisition of the Multicast Channel Map does not increase
time to multicast.
There are multiple ways that a Gateway could acquire the MCM without increasing time to multicast. One way to
achieve this would be to deliver the MCM in advance of its being needed by delivering it periodically. This could be
done either via multicast delivery or unicast retrieval. For example, a carousel-style approach could be used for
periodic multicast delivery, while unicast retrieval could be incorporated as part of a "heartbeat" exchange between
the Gateway and the Multicast Controller.
It should be noted that the first several segments of uncached media streams are always fetched via unicast. Given
that video segments are on the order of seconds long and that several segments will likely be requested by the Player
upon receipt of the manifest, the Gateway may have several seconds available to acquire the URI to (S,G) mapping
without increasing the time to multicast. Therefore, a more transactional model whereby the multicast channel
mapping of a single video asset is determined synchronously, on-demand may not negatively impact the time to
multicast. Thus, there appear to be several diverse ways for the Gateway to determine the URI to (S,G) mapping for
a video asset while still conforming to the Best Practice of not increasing the time to multicast.


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Design Note: URI to (S,G) mappings can be delivered in advance (via unicast or multicast) or more transactionally,
but, with care, any of these approaches can be used without increasing time to multicast.
Both unicast and multicast advance-MCM delivery mechanisms conform to the Best Practice by not increasing the
time to multicast, but multicast MCM delivery consumes less capacity. With multicast delivery only a single copy of
the MCM needs to be transferred to the M-ABR Serving Group. However, if a "heartbeat" exchange between the
Gateway and the Multicast Controller is necessary for other reasons, then operators may consider the additional
capacity used by delivering the MCM as part of this exchange as insignificant. This may depend on the number of
channels an operator is multicasting – if the MCM contains the URI to (S,G) mapping for 40 channels then it will
clearly be much smaller than if the MCM contains the same information for 400 channels.
Another design consideration around MCM delivery has to do with the rate of change in the channel map content.
For example, an operator using Policy-Driven Multicast Content Selection might only change the channel map 2 or
3 times a day. Thus, whether the channel map is delivered via multicast or unicast is less significant as the difference
in the amount of overhead is likely less substantial.
Design Consideration: The size of the MCM and the frequency with which it changes should be factored into the
determination as to whether multicast or unicast delivery of the MCM is preferable.

9.3 Video Design Considerations


There are a couple of key metrics that underlie many of the video design considerations. These are:
Channel Change Time - The time from a viewer initiating a channel change to the new channel being displayed.
(This is also sometimes referred to as the Zap Time.) This is a QoE metric for viewers, which, in some ways, has
little to do with IP multicast as the initial ABR segments are often retrieved via unicast.
Time to Multicast - The time from a viewer initiating a channel change to the arrival of the first segment over
multicast transport. This is a network efficiency metric, which has no QoE implications.
Time to Multicast has no QoE implications because the overall system is designed such that multicast content is
cached on the gateway and any content requested by a player that is not in the cache is retrieved via unicast. Thus, a
time to multicast of 10 seconds versus a time to multicast of 6 seconds only means that that there were 4 additional
seconds where content that presumably could have been delivered by multicast, was retrieved via unicast instead - in
both cases the Channel Change Time could have been 2 seconds (or less) and the viewer experience identical.
9.3.1 QoS & Video Delivery Rate
As mentioned in Section 9.1.1, one mechanism for providing guaranteed QoS in the downstream direction in
DOCSIS is the Minimum Reserved Traffic Rate. This mechanism provides a Committed Information Rate for M-
ABR streams. Section 9.1.1, however, did not discuss the potential for M-ABR streams to burst above their CIR.
With unicast ABR, clients request video segments as quickly as they can be delivered - this rate often exceeds the
actual bit rate of the content and leads to bursts above a minimum CIR required for the traffic. Burstiness in traffic
can lead to congestion as peaks from several video streams can align and induce delay or loss.
Multicast delivery does not use TCP and, thus, does not have the inherent congestion control mechanisms that
unicast ABR delivery does. NORM (and most multicast transport protocols) provides mechanisms for addressing
this. In particular, the NORM allows for constant bit rate transmissions. The bit rate selected should not exceed any
Maximum Sustained Rate assigned to the associate Group Service Flow or packets will be dropped/delayed.
Best Practice: The groomed rate of M-ABR streams from the Multicast Server should not consistently exceed the
Maximum Sustained Traffic Rate, if any, on the associated Group Service Flow.
Best Practice: The Minimum Reserved Traffic Rate assigned to a Group Service Flow should be greater than or
equal to the groomed rate of the associated M-ABR stream from the Multicast Server.
9.3.2 Manifest Manipulation
In standard ABR delivery, when first tuning to a channel the Player receives a manifest file and begins downloading
the media segments listed in the file and playing them back. In multicast ABR delivery, the Gateway needs to be
ahead of the Player such that an entire segment file is present in the Gateway cache and can be delivered to the
Player upon request.


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To do this, the M-ABR system typically performs "manifest manipulation" and removes the URL of the last
segment from the manifest it retrieves from the CDN before sending the manifest to the Player. This avoids a race
condition between the Embedded Multicast Cache and the player by allowing approximately one segment's worth of
time for a segment to arrive via multicast and be readied for retrieval from the Gateway cache. Manifest
manipulation can be performed either by the Gateway itself or in a back-office component. Some operators simply
maintain two versions of the manifest – one for Players and one for other system components.
Best Practice: The system should have the capability of modifying or managing manifests to allow the Gateway's
Embedded Multicast Cache to stay at least one segment ahead of a Player's requests.
9.3.3 Reception Caching & Predictive Tuning
Best Practice: Gateways should have multiple multicast receive buffers so that they can proactively receive and
cache channels which the viewer might want to watch in the future.
This practice improves both the Channel Change Time and the Time to Multicast at the expense of minimal
additional storage and complexity. There are many different algorithms for determining which channels should be
cached. For example, the 4 most recently watched channels could be cached and, when one of these caches is
needed for a new channel, the least recently watched channel could be ejected from the cache.
One can even envision predictive tuning of cached channels. This could be based on usage history, current
popularity or user behavior (e.g., linear channel changing). There are many potential algorithms, and refinements to
the algorithms to improve channel change times are likely to be a topic of research for years to come.
Best Practice: The Multicast Controller should know that a Gateway is "Tuned but Not Viewing" so that it can
determine when to potentially terminate the multicast of a given stream.
This practice works with the previous practice to ensure that these performance improvements also come at the cost
of no additional capacity as the Multicast Controller can terminate streams without viewers as it can discriminate
between streams that are simply being cached opportunistically from streams which are actively being viewed.
9.3.4 Channel Change Performance
This section will illustrate several findings:
• Changing to an uncached multicast channel takes the same amount of time as changing to a unicast
channel.
• Channel change time is not impacted by any potential delays related to acquiring multicast channel data or
joining new multicast groups. If the channel is cached, there is no need to acquire channel map data or to
join a multicast group, and if the channel is uncached, retrieval of initial segments will be via unicast.
• Time to multicast, however, can be impacted by channel change design decisions.
• Channel changing to a cached multicast channel takes roughly half the number of round-trip times as
changing to an uncached channel.
9.3.4.1 Channel Change to Cached Channel
When the Gateway has dedicated a spare multicast receiver to receive and cache content, channel changes to a
cached channel are quick and efficient. The following figure is a variation on Figure 3 and shows the sequence of
events that occur when accessing a channel that may be cached.


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Figure 12 – Content Access Sequence for Cached/Uncached Content

This sequence shows that a full round-trip time to the CDN (steps 6 and 7) can be eliminated from the channel
change time if a multicast receiver is being used in this way. Neglecting processing time in the Gateway, channel
change time is driven largely by two exchanges: one higher latency exchange between the Player and the
Origin/CDN for the Manifest and another negligible latency exchange from the Player to the Gateway for the cached
video Segment file. 20
9.3.4.2 Channel Change to Uncached Channels
When the Player requests a channel that is not already being cached by the Gateway, the likely steps are quite
similar. In this case, steps 6 and 7 from Figure 12 are followed as the first segment file cannot be cached unless a
spare multicast receiver has been allocated to this function.
It is important to note that are no multicast-related steps in this sequence and there is no dependency on any
multicast steps succeeding for the channel change to become complete. Thus, the performance of an uncached M-
ABR channel change is no different than the performance of a unicast ABR channel change. (Comparing Figure 3 to
Figure 12 illustrates this fact.)
The performance difference between the cached and uncached channel change cases is largely the difference in the
latency of the exchange between the Player and Gateway (steps 5 and 8 in the cached case) and the Player and
Origin/CDN (steps 5, 6, 7 and 8 in the uncached case). Given that the Player and Gateway are on the same LAN
segment, their latency is negligible, which means that the cached channel change is roughly twice as fast as the
uncached channel change, thus illustrating the importance of caching channels as a Best Practice identified in
Section 9.3.3.

20
This also neglects an exchange for getting any keys needed for decoding the video segments in the manifest, but this time is
identical in both the cached and the uncached case.


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9.3.5 Time to Multicast Performance


The previous section pointed out that changing to a cached channel improves channel change performance over
unicast by 50% and that changing to an uncached channel has essentially the same performance as unicast. Thus,
from an end-user perspective, an M-ABR system is as good or better than a traditional ABR system.
However, for operators, there are other channel-change-related metrics that matter more from a network efficiency
perspective than they do from an end-user QoE perspective. Chief among these is time to multicast - which is the
amount of time from the Gateway receiving a request for a different video asset URI to the time the first multicast
delivery of a segment from that asset.
9.3.5.1 Channel Change to Cached Channel
Much like channel change time, the time to multicast when changing to a cached channel is much better than when
changing to an uncached channel. In fact, in the case of a cached channel, time to multicast is 0 as the new channel
is already being received via multicast. This is a situation where the designed-in optimizations have been fully
leveraged and the power of the channel caching Best Practice can be fully realized.
Given the QoE and efficiency benefits of caching channels, one can see why operators are researching algorithms to
better predict future channel change behavior and thereby better predict which M-ABR channels should be cached.
9.3.5.2 Channel Change to Uncached Channels
When an unused multicast receiver is available for the new channel, the Gateway does not need to leave an existing
multicast group before joining a new group. Thus, this scenario can lead to better time to multicast than when all
receivers are busy and the Gateway needs to leave a multicast group.
The time it takes to complete the sequence shown earlier in Figure 5 entirely determines the time to multicast
performance. However, there are several optional steps in this sequence which can impact the time to multicast.
Steps 2 and 3 are only necessary if the Gateway does not have a priori knowledge of the channel map. As discussed
in 9.2.3, Gateways having advance knowledge of multicast channel map information is a best practice as it
eliminates the need for these additional steps.
Steps 5 through 9 are only necessary if there are no free multicast receivers for the new channel. The recognition
that these steps could be parallelized allows the identification of a new best practice.
Best Practice: Gateway should be designed such that it is possible to Join a new multicast group before the Leave
for an existing multicast group is completed.
While time to multicast is important for efficiency, it should also be noted that there may be other system-level
considerations that need to be taken into account when joining multicast groups. For example, initial CCAP
implementations may have performance limitations related to the rate of IGMP messaging they can support. Thus,
Gateway designers may want to consider delaying joining groups for multicast cache filling until the Player has been
"tuned" to an M-ABR channel for some amount of time. In this way, channel surfing behavior can be handled
largely via unicast means, and longer-term viewing enables multicast.
Design Consideration: Joining and leaving multicast groups consumes system resources; operators should examine
the tradeoff between joining multicast groups as quickly as possible (which may increase multicast efficiency) and
the CCAP resource cost of rapid joins/leaves due to "channel surfing" behavior.
One issue with M-ABR system design is that Player behavior can vary across implementations and is often outside
operator control. Most Player implementations request a number of segments immediately at the start of a new
stream to fill their buffers as quickly as possible ([Pantos-14] hints at 3 segments). Given this behavior and given the
duration of a video segment (typically at least 2 seconds), it may be the case that a Player requests 6 seconds of
video via unicast before multicast can reasonably be established (depending on how quickly the segments can be
retrieved via unicast). This Player initial buffering behavior can provide a window for multicast delivery to begin
and starting multicast before that window may not improve efficiency.
This may be best illustrated by an example. A Player requests a new content stream which is being broken into 6
second segments. The Player initially requests 3 segments in parallel which take 2 seconds to retrieve. Thus, the
Player has 18 seconds of video buffered and retrieved via unicast in 2 seconds. To maintain a consistent buffer level
the Player will typically request the 4th segment at the end of the first segment, or 6 seconds later. Since the initial 3


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segments are retrieved in parallel, there is little benefit in having a time to multicast significantly less than 8 seconds
as the first request outside the initial request burst does not occur until this time. Thus, for this type of parallel initial
request behavior, the time to multicast only needs to be less than the time of the Player's first periodic, non-burst
request. 21
Design Consideration: Operators should consider Player behavior when attempting to optimize time to multicast.
Unless time to multicast is low enough to fill part of a Player's initial burst of requests, Gateways may have
additional time margin to acquire multicast content as it may be several seconds before the Player's first periodic
request after its initial burst.
9.3.6 Time from Live
A third Key Performance Indicator for M-ABR service is the Time from Live. This is defined as the time difference,
within the content stream itself, between the M-ABR stream and the version of the stream delivered via QAM.
These time differences can create user dissatisfaction. For example, in current cable networks it is possible to have
similar time discrepancies between the SD and HD versions of the same channel; thus, a subscriber with the same
show on SD in the kitchen and on HD in the family room can hear the difference between the two streams.
Design Consideration: Operators should endeavor to minimize the time differences within different versions of the
same stream.
Given that M-ABR is always at least one segment behind, ABR time from live cannot be completely brought to
zero. However, limiting time from live to a single segment is a good design goal. Further, minimizing the segment
duration will minimize the time from live.
Design Consideration: Shorter video segments generally lead to shorter time from live.
9.3.7 Emergency Alerts
Emergency alerts take many forms. Emergency alerts can be crawlers providing weather/AMBER alerts across the
bottom of the screen. Less frequently, they can also be Emergency Action Notifications (EANs). In the case of an
EAN, the entire video feed is pre-empted by a new video stream authorized by the President. As all viewers must be
provided the EAN, it is clearly more efficient to deliver this content via multicast than via unicast.
However, this remains an area of open research. Beyond the clear benefit of multicasting some forms of emergency
alerts (e.g., EAN), the best practices and design considerations for this technology remain open. Thus, the working
group left this as an area for future work.

9.4 Operational Support Design Considerations


9.4.1 Viewership Reporting
To support M-ABR, a new IPDR/SP Service Definition has been developed by the working group. This Service
Definition is intended to allow operators to have a complete picture of M-ABR group membership. The data
includes the Join and Leave time for every (S,G) watched by the Gateways served by a given CCAP.
Best Practice: For viewership data on M-ABR content, the IP Multicast Stats Service Definition should be used.
It should be noted that this information could be useful when determining what content to multicast in the future and
can be used to feed back data into a Policy-Driven Multicast content selection system.
9.4.2 Key Performance Indicators
Operational Support Systems are key to understanding the performance of a deployed M-ABR system. There are a
number of KPIs which operators should consider monitoring to ensure that their M-ABR system is functioning as
designed and to examine for discovering potential system performance improvements. This is an area of future work
for the IP Multicast Focus Team and new management object models are likely to be developed to incorporate some
of these KPIs.

21
Clearly, with shorter duration segments this time is reduced, but operators may intentionally design for the 2nd or 3rd periodic
request. Again, there is no QoE impact from increased time to multicast – only reduced efficiency.


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As Channel Change Time can largely be captured by the Gateway it is possible to monitor this from the Gateway
perspective. For example, the Gateway could start a timer each time a request for new managed video content is
made and then terminate that timer when the corresponding response is complete. 22 Similarly, Time to Multicast
could also be measured by utilizing a timer between that initial content request from the Player and the
corresponding response arriving via multicast.
Time from live, however, is more of a system-level metric, which would be extremely difficult to measure on an
individual Gateway. This might be possible to measure within the back office by somehow comparing unicast
content streams from the CDN to multicast streams for the same content. However, even this would likely prove
challenging as identifying the same internal point in two content streams relative to their delivery streams is
difficult.
There are a number of additional KPIs which might give insight into other aspects of system performance. In
particular, metrics related to cache hit rate and additional viewership data would likely prove useful to operators
evaluating their multicast gain and potentially tuning their system.
While traditionally cache hit rate has been used in the web caching domain to look at how useful the cached content
has been across the set of users utilizing a given cache, in the M-ABR model cache hit rate provides insight on the
amount of content retrieved via unicast (a cache miss) versus the amount of content delivered via multicast (a cache
hit). If all content uses the same segment size, then the percentage of multicast content consumption versus unicast
content consumption could be monitored. As changes are made to the set of streams being multicast or other back-
office algorithms, this metric could be utilized to evaluate the effectiveness of those changes.
As discussed earlier, continuing to receive an unwatched multicast channel which becomes a watched multicast
channel can provide substantial improvements in channel change time and time to multicast. Thus, algorithms for
identifying channels which should be cached are extremely valuable as the ones which best predict future channel
change activity will likely provide the best QoE for subscribers. There are two potential classes of metrics to look at
this aspect of system performance. One might count the number of segments which are received via multicast, but
never requested from the cache (i.e., are never viewed). Presumably, implementations with fewer "cached, but not
played" segments are utilizing their cache's more efficiently. As "cached, but not viewed" content is neither a cache
hit or a cache miss, this provides a third caching-related metric which could prove to be valuable for operators.
Additionally, it should be noted that the "viewership reporting" described in the previous section makes no
distinction between content which is actually being viewed versus content which is being cached, but not viewed.
Thus, per (S,G), metrics on segments received, but not viewed can provide data from the Gateway which is not
available on the CCAP (although this type of information may be provided to the Multicast Controller.)
In DOCSIS some of the most important physical layer statistics relate to corrected and uncorrectable codewords. As
NORM also utilizes Reed-Solomon FEC, these same metrics - but at the multicast transport layer - can provide
operators insight into the performance of their transport-layer FEC which can be used for tuning the amount of FEC
protection required in different situations.
Currently there is no standard instrumentation for these or other KPIs which might be utilized to monitor and tune an
M-ABR system, but, as mentioned previously, this is an item the working group is planning on addressing as part of
their future work.

22
Players also report a number of metrics such as Channel Change Time so adding this instrumentation to the Gateway may be
unnecessary.


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10 CONCLUSIONS
This technical report has discussed many aspects of Multicast-ABR video systems. It has defined a reference
architecture and discussed the interfaces between the various components of that architecture. It has explored many
aspects of an M-ABR deployment and identified a set of current best practices. Where significant tradeoffs exist,
design considerations were also identified which help to crystallize the trade space architects should be evaluating.


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Appendix I Example M-ABR Sequence Diagrams


This Appendix provides a number of sequence diagrams to illustrate the basic protocol exchanges which underpin
Multicast-ABR. However, they are not based on any specific implementation and are optimized for clarity - not
performance. In particular, a number of these diagrams show steps which could be optimized by parallelization, but
for clarity they are shown sequentially.

I.1 Video-Related Sequences

I.1.1 Content Delivery with Multicast Cache Check


The following figure is identical to Figure 4, but also includes message details for each step in the exchange. These
message details are not based on an actual implementation and should be used just for reference. They are intended
to remove ambiguity from descriptions in the body of the technical report.

Figure 13 – Content Delivery with Multicast Cache Check

The corresponding messages are detailed in the following table.


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Table 6 – Content Delivery with Multicast Cache Check

Step Message Details


saddr=Player daddr=Origin
1 GET http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbop/gear2/prog_index.m3u8
HTTP/1.1
Host: devimages.apple.com
X-Playback-Session-Id: 137B15EC-BFFE-4E41-B95A-3480DFB99274
Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_9_4) AppleWebKit/537.78.2
(KHTML, like Gecko) Version/7.0.6 Safari/537.78.2
Referer: http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbopgear2.html
Accept-Encoding: gzip
Connection: keep-alive
saddr=Gateway daddr=Origin
2 GET /iphone/samples/bipbop/gear2/prog_index.m3u8 HTTP/1.1
Host: devimages.apple.com
X-Playback-Session-Id: 137B15EC-BFFE-4E41-B95A-3480DFB99274
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_9_4) AppleWebKit/537.78.2
(KHTML, like Gecko) Version/7.0.6 Safari/537.78.2
Referer: http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbopgear2.html
Accept-Encoding: gzip
Connection: keep-alive
saddr=Origin daddr=Gateway
3 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache
ETag: "50117c8233644c19b5ab49551b72507f:1239907416"
Last-Modified: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:43:36 GMT
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 7019
Content-Type: audio/x-mpegurl
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2014 18:39:19 GMT
Connection: keep-alive
#EXTM3U
#EXT-X-TARGETDURATION:10
#EXT-X-MEDIA-SEQUENCE:0
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence0.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence1.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence2.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence3.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence4.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence5.ts
saddr=Origin daddr=Player
4 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Length: 7019
ETag: "50117c8233644c19b5ab49551b72507f:1239907416"
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2014 18:39:19 GMT
Last-Modified: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:43:36 GMT
Server: Apache
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Type: audio/x-mpegurl
Connection: keep-alive
#EXTM3U
#EXT-X-TARGETDURATION:10


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Step Message Details


#EXT-X-MEDIA-SEQUENCE:0
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence0.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence1.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence2.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence3.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence4.ts
#EXTINF:10, no desc
fileSequence5.ts
saddr=Player daddr=Origin
5 GET http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbop/gear2/fileSequence0.ts
HTTP/1.1
Host: devimages.apple.com
X-Playback-Session-Id: 137B15EC-BFFE-4E41-B95A-3480DFB99274
Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_9_4) AppleWebKit/537.78.2
(KHTML, like Gecko) Version/7.0.6 Safari/537.78.2
Referer: http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbopgear2.html
Accept-Encoding: identity
Connection: keep-alive
saddr=Gateway daddr=Origin
6 GET /iphone/samples/bipbop/gear2/fileSequence0.ts HTTP/1.1
Host: devimages.apple.com
X-Playback-Session-Id: 137B15EC-BFFE-4E41-B95A-3480DFB99274
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_9_4) AppleWebKit/537.78.2
(KHTML, like Gecko) Version/7.0.6 Safari/537.78.2
Referer: http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbopgear2.html
Accept-Encoding: identity
Connection: keep-alive
saddr=Origin daddr=Gateway
7 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache
ETag: "4611f4bcccb6f95f69041e6d48b058f9:1239907353"
Last-Modified: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:42:33 GMT
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 414540
Content-Type: video/mp2t
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2014 18:39:19 GMT
Connection: keep-alive
{Binary Content Omitted}
saddr=Origin daddr=Player
8 HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Length: 414540
ETag: "4611f4bcccb6f95f69041e6d48b058f9:1239907353"
Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2014 18:39:19 GMT
Last-Modified: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:42:33 GMT
Server: Apache
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Type: video/mp2t
Connection: keep-alive
{Binary Content Omitted}

9 Refer to step 1


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Step Message Details

10 Refer to step 2

11 Refer to step 3

12 Refer to step 4

Figure 14 – Multicast Cache Filling

The corresponding messages are detailed in the following table.


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Table 7 – Initial Request – Unvailable via Multicast

Step Message Details


saddr=Player daddr=Origin
1 GET http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbop/gear2/prog_index.m3u8
HTTP/1.1
Host: devimages.apple.com
X-Playback-Session-Id: 137B15EC-BFFE-4E41-B95A-3480DFB99274
Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
Accept: */*
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_9_4) AppleWebKit/537.78.2
(KHTML, like Gecko) Version/7.0.6 Safari/537.78.2
Referer: http://devimages.apple.com/iphone/samples/bipbopgear2.html
Accept-Encoding: gzip
Connection: keep-alive

2 Proprietary HTTP Request

3 Proprietary HTTP Response

4 Proprietary Request
saddr: Gateway daddr: 224.0.0.22
5 IGMP Version: 3
Type: Membership Report (0x22)
Header checksum: 0xf8fb [correct]
Num Group Records: 1
Group Record : 224.1.1.1 Change to Exclude Mode (4)
Aux Data Len: 0
Num Src: 0
Multicast Address: 224.1.1.1 (224.1.1.1)

6 PIM details are TBS


saddr: CCAP MAC daddr: CM MAC
7 Dynamic Bonding Change Request
Transaction ID: 12345
Number of Fragments: 1
Fragment Sequence Number: 1
DSID Encodings
DSID Value: 234
Downstream Service Identifier Action: Delete (2)
Downstream Reseq. Encodings:
Reseq. DSID Flag: 1 (DSID is a resequencing DSID)
DS Channel ID Array: 0x0102030405060708
Multicast Encodings
Client MAC Address Encodings
Action: Delete (1)
Client MAC Address: Gateway MAC
Multicast CMIM: eRouter (0x40)
Multicast GMAC Address(es): GMAC of Content Stream
Key Sequence Number: 0x01
HMAC Digest: varies
saddr: CM MAC daddr: CCAP MAC
8 Dynamic Bonding Change Response
Transaction ID: 12345
Confirmation Code: okay / success (0)
Key Sequence Number: 0x01
HMAC Digest: varies
saddr: CCAP MAC daddr: CM MAC
9 Dynamic Bonding Change Acknowledgment
Transaction ID: 12345


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Step Message Details


Key Sequence Number: 0x01
HMAC Digest: varies
saddr: Gateway daddr: 224.0.0.22
10 IGMP Version: 3
Type: Membership Report (0x22)
Header checksum: 0xf9fb [correct]
Num Group Records: 1
Group Record : 224.1.1.1 Change to Include Mode (3)
Aux Data Len: 0
Num Src: 0
Multicast Address: 224.1.1.1 (224.1.1.1)

11 PIM details are TBS


saddr: CCAP MAC daddr: CM MAC
12 Dynamic Bonding Change Request
Transaction ID: 12346
Number of Fragments: 1
Fragment Sequence Number: 1
DSID Encodings
DSID Value: 123
Downstream Service Identifier Action: Add (0)
Downstream Reseq. Encodings:
Reseq. DSID Flag: 1 (DSID is a resequencing DSID)
DS Channel ID Array: 0x0102030405060708
Multicast Encodings
Client MAC Address Encodings
Action: Add (0)
Client MAC Address: Gateway MAC
Multicast CMIM: eRouter (0x40)
Multicast GMAC Address(es): GMAC of Content Stream
Key Sequence Number: 0x01
HMAC Digest: varies
saddr: CM MAC daddr: CCAP MAC
13 Dynamic Bonding Change Response
Transaction ID: 12346
Confirmation Code: okay / success (0)
Key Sequence Number: 0x01
HMAC Digest: varies
saddr: CCAP MAC daddr: CM MAC
14 Dynamic Bonding Change Acknowledgment
Transaction ID: 12346
Key Sequence Number: 0x01
HMAC Digest: varies

15 See Section I.2 for additional detail on NORM messaging.

I.2 NORM-Related Sequences


The following sequence diagrams provide more detail on how NORM is used to deliver streams of M-ABR
segments. Both sequences are assuming unicast repair so there are no NACKs from the Gateway Cache and no
NORM repair traffic from the Multicast Server.
These sequence diagrams also separate the Gateway's Embedded Multicast Client function from its Caching Proxy
function. These two functions typically operate asynchronously. The Embedded Multicast Client receives segments
via NORM and "stuffs" the proxy's cache with them as shown in Figure 15. This provides the multicast functionality
for the Gateway. The Caching Proxy function is a unicast function and is typically the function that interacts with
the Player. This is shown in Figure 16, which is essentially providing an additional layer of detail not shown in


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Figure 13, which abstracts away the notion that partial segments might be delivered and that the gaps in these
segments can be filled using Range Requests to the CDN (as described in Section 9.2.2.2).

Figure 15 – NORM Delivery of Segments with Unicast Repair


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Figure 16 – NORM with Unicast Repair

As mentioned previously, Figure 16 should be considered in the context of Figure 13. This figure provides more
detail on the way Range Requests can be used to fill in gaps in segment files that result from FEC blocks being
dropped when errors occur.


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Appendix II NORM_INFO Metadata Encoding


Each ABR video segment file is treated by NORM as a NormObject. Each NormObject can have associated
metadata which can be delivered via NORM_INFO messaging. The payload_data portion of the NORM_INFO
message is in an "application defined" format. This section defines a generic XML schema for NORM_INFO
messages used for M-ABR systems.
This schema leverages a simple key-value pair mechanism similar to Apple's Plist format.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xs:schema xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"
xmlns:ni="http://www.cablelabs.com/namespaces/multicast/NORM_INFO"
targetNamespace="http://www.cablelabs.com/namespaces/multicast/NORM_INFO"
elementFormDefault="unqualified" attributeFormDefault="unqualified" version="1.0">
<xs:element name="metadata">
<xs:complexType>
<xs:sequence maxOccurs="unbounded">
<xs:element name="key" type="xs:token"/>
<xs:choice>
<xs:element name="string" type="xs:string"/>
<xs:element name="bool" type="xs:boolean"/>
<xs:element name="integer" type="xs:int"/>
<xs:element name="real" type="xs:double"/>
<xs:element name="data" type="xs:base64Binary"/>
</xs:choice>
</xs:sequence>
<xs:attribute name="version" type="xs:string" fixed="1.0"/>
</xs:complexType>
</xs:element>
</xs:schema>
In addition to the schema, one standard key is defined - "HTTP_Headers". When used, the corresponding string
value should contain all of the HTTP headers the Multicast Server wants associated with the corresponding video
segment when the Gateway delivers it via unicast. The following is an example encoding of HTTP headers using
this standard mechanism.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<ni:metadata version="1.0"
xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.cablelabs.com/namespaces/multicast/NORM_INFO
norm_info.xsd" xmlns:ni="http://www.cablelabs.com/namespaces/multicast/NORM_INFO"
xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
<key>HTTP_Headers</key>
<string>HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache
ETag: "17a9d47ae133f0bae8a0651fe97386d2:1239907490"
Last-Modified: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:44:50 GMT
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 923080
Content-Type: video/mp2t
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:50:01 GMT
Connection: keep-alive</string>
</ni:metadata>
The following is a JSON representation of the same XML instance document.
{
"ni:metadata": {
"-xmlns:ni": "http://www.cablelabs.com/namespaces/multicast/NORM_INFO",
"-xmlns:xsi": "http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance",
"-version": "1.0",
"-xsi:schemaLocation": "http://www.cablelabs.com/namespaces/multicast/NORM_INFO
norm_info.xsd",
"key": "HTTP_Headers",


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"string": "HTTP/1.1 200 OK


Server: Apache
ETag: \"17a9d47ae133f0bae8a0651fe97386d2:1239907490\"
Last-Modified: Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:44:50 GMT
Accept-Ranges: bytes
Content-Length: 923080
Content-Type: video/mp2t
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:50:01 GMT
Connection: keep-alive"
}
}


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Appendix III Channel Map Reference Schema


This section describes a simple reference design of a schema intended to provide the Gateway with the basic ability
to map Player content requests to Multicast Streams that contain the corresponding content. The Gateway can use
this information to trigger a Join for a multicast group when such a group exists for the requested content.
Other related schemas from DVB and the OpenIPTV Forum exist, but these schemas don't specifically address the
M-ABR (S,G) mapping issue that this schema is designed to cover. Further, the scope of these schemas is far larger
than the scope of the M-ABR technical report; thus, these schemas contained additional features and complexity not
needed to support this fundamental, but basic use case. That said, this schema is intended to be the minimum viable
schema to perform this request to (S,G) mapping; actual implementations would likely define additional object and
attributes.

Figure 17 – Reference Channel Map Schema

III.1 LinearAssetAddressType Definition


Table 8 – LinearAssetAddressType Definition

Attribute Name Type Type Constraints Units Default Value


sourceAddress string dvb:IPOrDomainType
groupAddress string dvb:IPOrDomainType
groupPort unsignedShort

sourceAddress - the sourceAddress of the SSM (S,G) pair.


groupAddress - the groupAddress of the SSM (S,G) pair.
groupPort - the port number specific to the SSM group for the associated M-ABR stream.


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III.2 UnicastRequestMatcherType Definition


Table 9 – UnicastRequestMatcherType Definition

Attribute Name Type Type Constraints Units Default Value


playerRequestMatchPattern string

playerRequestMatchPattern - This is intended to be a flexible field that Gateways can use to match Player
requests for unicast ABR content to the same content's multicast stream (if available). This could be a
regular expression or other advanced matching string or just a unique identifier known to be embedded in
the URL or other portion of the request. How the GW applies this pattern to the request is implementation
dependent, but it is intended to provide a unique mapping to the associated mcastStream.

III.3 UnicastRequestToMcastMapType Definition


This object contains a single object of type UnicastRequestMatcherType (its unicastReqMatcher) and a single object
of type LinearAssetAddressType (its mcastStream).

III.4 ChannelMapType Definition


This object contains an unbounded sequence of objects of type UnicastRequestToMcastMapType in its
unicastReqToMcastMap object.

III.5 Reference Channel Map Schema


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<xs:schema xmlns:xs="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema"
xmlns:mabr="urn:com:cablelabs:mabr:2014-09-30"
xmlns:dvb="urn:dvb:metadata:iptv:sdns:2008-1"
targetNamespace="urn:com:cablelabs:mabr:2014-09-30" elementFormDefault="qualified"
attributeFormDefault="unqualified">
<xs:import namespace="urn:dvb:metadata:iptv:sdns:2008-1"
schemaLocation="./sdns_v1.4r13.xsd"/>
<xs:element name="channelMap" type="mabr:ChannelMapType">
<xs:annotation>
<xs:documentation>Multicast-ABR Channel Map</xs:documentation>
</xs:annotation>
</xs:element>
<xs:complexType name="ChannelMapType">
<xs:sequence>
<xs:element name="requestToMcastMap" type="mabr:UnicastReqToMcastMapType"
maxOccurs="unbounded"/>
</xs:sequence>
</xs:complexType>
<xs:complexType name="UnicastReqToMcastMapType">
<xs:sequence>
<xs:element name="unicastReqMatcher" type="mabr:UnicastRequestMatchType"/>
<xs:element name="mcastStream" type="mabr:LinearAssetAddressType"/>
</xs:sequence>
</xs:complexType>
<xs:complexType name="LinearAssetAddressType">
<xs:attributeGroup ref="mabr:SSMAddressType"/>
</xs:complexType>
<xs:complexType name="UnicastRequestMatchType">
<xs:attributeGroup ref="mabr:UnicastMatcherType"/>
</xs:complexType>
<xs:attributeGroup name="SSMAddressType">
<xs:attribute name="sourceAddress" type="dvb:IPOrDomainType" use="required"/>
<xs:attribute name="groupAddress" type="dvb:IPOrDomainType" use="required"/>
<xs:attribute name="groupPort" type="xs:unsignedShort" use="required"/>


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</xs:attributeGroup>
<xs:attributeGroup name="UnicastMatcherType">
<xs:attribute name="playerRequestMatchPattern" type="xs:string" use="required">
<xs:annotation>
<xs:documentation>This is intended to be a flexible field that Gateways can
use to match Player requests to content. This could be a regular expression or other
advanced matching string or just a unique identifier known to be embedded in the URL
or other portion of the request. How the GW applies this pattern to the request is
implementation dependent, but it is intended to provide a unique mapping to the
associated mcastStream.</xs:documentation>
</xs:annotation>
</xs:attribute>
</xs:attributeGroup>
</xs:schema>


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Appendix IV Acknowledgements
This technical report was developed and influenced by numerous individuals representing many different vendors
and organizations. CableLabs hereby wishes to thank everybody who participated directly or indirectly in this effort.
CableLabs wishes to recognize the following individuals for their significant involvement and contributions to the
V01 technical report:
Dan Torbet – ARRIS
John Ulm – ARRIS
Ian Wheelock – ARRIS
Qin-Fan Zhu – Casa
Sangeeta Ramakrishnan – Cisco
John Bevilacqua – Comcast
Gene Granados – Cox Communications
Tom Gonder – Time Warner Cable
CableLabs technical reports acknowledge individuals who contributed to the development of that document. Their
work has contributed to this technical report as well.
Matt White and Greg White – CableLabs
Andrew Sundelin – Consultant to CableLabs


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